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 Team!
I'm sorry for a noob question,

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

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

Can I replace THIS with IT? Since I'm going to begin a conversation? Thanks!!:)

Hello Hazardous,

It's possible to say 'it's David' instead, but it's far more common to say 'this is David'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

I have noticed this question has been asked quite a few times. And maybe both are interchangeable. I'm sorry. Although I only wanted to know the usage of It and This with respect to 'beginning' a conversation on the phone. Can we use IT when we begin a conversation ...? Thank you so much.

Hello again Hazardous,

As I said above, 'this is ...' is really the most common way to identify yourself at the beginning of a phone conversation. In a face-to-face conversation, there are many different ways to begin one.

If you have some specific conversation in mind, please let us know and we'll let you know what we think.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much, Kirk! I completely understand everything now. I'll go with the one that's more commonly used. :) Can I ask a question that is out of the blue? Just need a second opinion. I say, 'WHO's your favorite basketball player?' but 'WHAT's your favorite band/team?' Am I correct that it is more appropriate to say What because the band/team is a loose term or is collective and taken as a single unit? Thanks again for your help. :)

Hello Hazardous,

Great - I'm glad that helped you. And yes, you're right - a band or team is considered a thing and we say 'what' for that reason. Good work!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, The LearnEnglish Team!
Could you help me, please? Which of the following sentences is correct? [about specific foods]
"They are protein, vitamins and fiber". Or "They are proteins, vitamins and fiber".
Is it possible to use a singular countable noun like "protein" soon after "They are" provided there are two more words followed (vitamins and fiber)?
Could both of those sentences be correct?
It would be really kind of you if you could help! Thanks a lot in advance!

Hello Yuriy UA,

It is very hard to say without knowing the context, as it may be that 'They contain...' is better than 'They are...' here. However in answer to your question, it is possible to use the singular form here if the 'are' refers to items in a list:

Three constituents are important here. They are protein, vitamins and fibre.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


what about comments or feedbacks. Do I need to use it or that?

Smth like That's a good idea. or It's nice weather today. What's the difference?


Hello sofiikaas,

That really depends on what you say. 'That's a good idea' is a great way to give feedback. 'It's nice weather today' sounds a little unnatural, though certainly intelligible - people usually say something like 'The weather is nice today' instead. I'm afraid there aren't always good reasons that explain why people say one thing and not another - in some cases it's just what people say.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team