You are here


Level: beginner

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.

Be careful!

We say, This is John and this is Michael. (NOT These are John and Michael.)

  • to begin a conversation on the phone:

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

that and those

We use that (singular) and those (plural) as pronouns to talk about things that are not near us:

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



We also use that to reply to something someone has said:

'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?'

Replies with that's 1


Replies with that's 2


With nouns

We can also use this, these, that and those with nouns. 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?

Demonstratives with nouns




I have a question on this subject. Say I am writing about a medical technique/procedure (eg: transplant) and that section and the first word very clearly detail that the only technique being talked about is Transplant.
How many times can I refer to transplant in the text (one or two paragraphs) as "this procedure" or "this technique" instead of writing over and over again the word "transplant"? Is there a limit to it? Or is it just bad form to almost always use the pronoun?

Hi maria cookie,

I'm afraid there's no single rule about this - it's a question of style and, therefore, is very much context-dependent and quite subjective.  The general pattern is to alternative noun and pronoun - use the noun first, then the pronoun twice (for example), then the noun again.  However, all this depends on the particular example - it is not possible to generalise, so without seeing the paragraph itself there is little that I can say about it.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Dear teacher
The question:"What are ............... men doing on the roof?"
a. This
b. That
I choose:"b.That" --> Its wrong answer.
The correct is "d.Those". So, Could you please explain why we choose d. ?

Hello duongdiu,

In the sentence we have the word 'men', which is plural.  Therefore 'this' and 'that' are not possible, as they are used with singular nouns.

'These' is generally used with things close by (near) or familiar; 'those' with things further away (far) or less familiar.  The person saying this sentence is probably looking at the roof rather than standing on it (this is an assumption, but is quite likely!), and so will say 'those' rather than 'these'.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. I would like to ask a question about these and those. If I say:"What are these/those? (, books). The answer should be: These/those are shoes/books, or They are shoes/ they are books.
Thank you.

Hello bekicaci,

The correct answer would be 'They are...'

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

With reference to Mr. Peter comments on Christmas Scene on 16 Dec. to Ysaloga, after I have read the comments and I wondered why he has used - those - to refer to the suggestions those he has listed them. But after reading his reply to Leon4090 dated 15 Nov. I realized that we must consider the textual distance when we use ( this / these and that/those ) .
Now the question in same cases when I write email or essay, if I use these instead of those does the examiner consider that is grammatical mistake or it`s only likely to use it.
Another thing I want to ask about :
Did I write those comments I has sent previously in good, acceptable way (except the grammatical rules now I work on improve it) and need a bit improvement or need much more one.
Best Regards

Hi Safaa,

Without a specific context, it's difficult to say whether the use of these or those is unusual or not. Is there a specific email or essay that you've written that you'd like to ask about? If so, we could take a quick look at it. I can't say for sure, but I expect that an examiner will consider using these instead of those (or vice versa) more or less serious depending on how much confusion the mistake could cause - again, it really depends on the context.

I'm afraid I'm not sure which of your comments you're asking about. If you have a specific question about one of them, please feel free to copy your comment in a new comment, but please know that we don't generally have time to provide feedback on entire texts; if you have a question about a specific phrase or sentence, that is something we can help you with.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Can we say  'this' used in 'this house' is a noun modifier and instead 'this' as a pronoun for two reasons?
In the write-up on Possessive pronouns, we understand my in 'my book' is a noun modifier and mine is the pronoun substituting the adjective phrase. Applying the same rule can we say this house is a noun phrase and this is a pronoun? For example;
Is this your book?
No this book is not mine. (or)   ------  noun phrase
This is not mine.                        ------  pronoun
Secondly, pronoun is defined as a substitute for noun. Then is it necessary to use a noun next to a pronoun?

Hi veeraraghavan,

Your analysis is correct - this is both a specific determiner and also a pronoun, and in the two sentences you write, you have correctly identified its uses. In answer to your second question, since a pronoun takes the place of another noun, it is used independently of the noun it replaces.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team