this, that, these and those

pronouns: this, that, these and those

Why do we use this and these?

We use this (singular) and these (plural) as pronouns:

- to talk about people or things near us:

This is a nice cup of tea.
Whose shoes are these?

- to introduce people:

This is Janet.
These are my friends, John and Michael.

We don’t say These are John and Michael.
We say This is John and this is Michael.

- to introduce ourselves to begin a conversation on the phone:

Hello, this is David, Can I speak to Sally?

Why do we use that and those?

We use that (singular) and those (plural):

- to talk about things that are not near us:

What’s that?
This is our house, and that’s Rebecca’s house over there.
Those are very expensive shoes.

- We also use that to refer back to something someone said or did:

  • - Shall we go to the cinema?
    - Yes, that’s a good idea.
  • - I’ve got a new job.
    - That’s great.
  • - I’m very tired.
    - Why is that?

this, these, that, those with nouns

We also use this, these, that and those with nouns to show proximity

We use this and these for people or things near us:

We have lived in this house for twenty years.
Have you read all of these books?

… and that and those for people or things that are not near us:

Who lives in that house?
Who are those people?



Hello guys!

I have a doubt concerning the use of "this" or "that" while writing. So, for example, if i say:

"It is time of being a child, playing with other kids and toys. THIS is part of having a happy childhood and THIS will also help them to develop some skills.


"Having compromises seems a good way to prepare children to the future. THAT will contribute to make them acquire some sense of responsibility. All THAT may contribute to turn the children into healthy adults.

Is the use of "this" and "that" right in the sentences above? I wrote them some time ago and I just "try to feel" when to use this or that, but i am not sure when to use one or another. Is there a rule I can follow or any site I can read more about it? I have already searched on google, but there is not anything specific about ... THAT/THIS.

Hi Cahenriq,

Both this and that are commonly used to refer back to something that we've just written about. When we are simply making a brief comment about the previous subject, that is more commonly used, but when we have more to say about the topic we're referring back to, this is generally used. To my ears, this sounds better in both of the texts you mention, because in both cases you are explaining the issue in more detail. Using this and that in this way is not easy, by the way, so don't despair if you find it difficult!

I expect it will be difficult to find pages devoted exclusively to this topic, but if you do internet searches for 'cohesion reference words', I think you'll find some interesting pages.

By the way, in the second text, I think you might want to consider using the word 'commitment' instead of 'compromise' - perhaps I'm wrong, but if you look up both words in the dictionary, I'm sure which one you mean will be clear.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello The LearnEnglish Team,

We use that for singular and those for plural, then why 'that' is used here:
-to talk about things that are not near us.


Hello Rajneesh,

In the sentence you mention, 'that' is a relative pronoun. When it is a relative pronoun, 'that' does not change form.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team