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?



How does "that" work here?
It's that I don't like Chinese food.
It's just that I love you.

And also what does "it" refer to?

Hello akatsuki,

'It' here is an example of a dummy subject - see this page for more information on this.

The meaning of 'that' in these sentences is context-dependent, so it is hard to say without seeing the whole context. It is likely that the meaning is as follows:

It's (caused by / because of the fact) that I don't like Chinese food.

It's just (the case / a fact / true) that I love you.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Teacher,
Could you please tell me the usage of "that" here?
1. The father is glad that he has got his daughter married to a nice young man.
2. She is glad that she has passed the examination.
3. The teacher insisted that the boys should attend moral instruction classes.
I often confused by the use of That here,

Thanks in advance,
Ramachandran G,

Hello Ramachandran G,

In all of these sentences 'that' is not essential and can be omitted if the speaker chooses.

'That' has many uses, both lexical and grammatical. It can be used as the object of a preposition, to introduce subordinate clauses, for example (as in the examples above).

This page will help you with many of those uses. You can also find information here and here.

I hope those links are useful.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
I think I've been using the word 'them' incorrectly and would like to check it with you.

Suppose I am giving a command regarding some clothes and the listener knows I am talking about those clothes, which one of these sentences is correct:

1) These are not my clothes. Take them away.
2) These are not my clothes. Take those away.

Thank you

Hello adtyagrwl3,

The first sentence is correct. We would only use 'those' if there were several piles of clothes and we wanted to be sure that the other person did not make a mistake and take the wrong clothes away.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I seem to understand the link with geographical proximity this/that. What happens when there is no geographical proximity but sequence in a text. Example : Someone sends news via email. I want to briefly comment and thank. Can I say "thanks for these news" or "thanks for those news"?

Hello mimidparis,

Although 'news' looks plural it is in fact singular, so you should say 'this news' or 'that news'. The difference between the two is proximity, as you say, but this can be psychological proximity. In other words, it can be quite subjective. It would be perfectly acceptable to use either 'this' or 'that' in the sentence. 'This' suggests less distance, which may mean that the news is more relevant to you, or is 'fresher', or relates directly to you. 'That' suggests the opposite, but the difference is very subtle.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

My students wrote this: What are lions? They are these(with a picture). Is this acceptable in writing?