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Demonstratives

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.

Demonstratives

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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

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Replies with that's 2

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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

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Comments

Hello.
I understand that we can use 'this' and 'these' to introduce people.

But can we use such sentences like
'Who are those?' 'Those are my children.' 'Those are students.' ?

Hello Laupytk,

I wouldn't recommend using 'those' in this way, but 'these' would be OK here.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

What does "that" mean in this context?

That's most kind of you.

Sometimes I've seen 'it' used instead of 'that' as well. What does it mean?

Hello Crokong,

In this sentence, that is an example of a reference device. The word refers to something we cannot see: it could be something in the previous sentence or it could something in the world such as an action which has just taken place. Without knowing the context it is impossible to say.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
Could you please let me know which one below is correct?
Situation: at the end of a business email
1. I hope this helps.
2. I hope it helps.
3. Hope this helps.
4. Hope it helps.
5. I hope this helps you.
Any difference? And why?
Thanks, Nicoletta

Hello nicolettalee,

All of those are grammatically possible, though (2) is rather awkward and I would not use that one.

It's really a question of style and appropriacy. For a business letter a formal style is generally preferable, so I would suggest that (5) and (1) are the best choices. The others are rather informal so should be avoided unless the letter is intended to be informal.

Another, very polite, alternative would be this:

I hope this is helpful to you. Please let me know if you need anything else/anything more.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Regarding the usage of "these" or "those" - In the famous BBC TV series, in an episode scene, Basel Faulty said to his Spanish servant "There is too much butter on those trays ". The trays are in the seevant's hands, very near and visible to both of them. Was it mistake,deliberately done to fulfil the next scene of confusion with Spanish language, or "those" is correctly used - if so - why?

Butter is an uncountable noun, therefore we use is rather than are.

Hello Todor

This is correct usage. There are some exceptions, but in general, the speaker will use 'these' to refer to things near them (not things near the listener) and 'those' to refer to things further away, or, in this case, in the hands of the listener.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

It was great help Kirk, thank you very much! To affirm my understanding, I would ask one more question : whether Basel Faultu wold have said " Those trays are not thoroughly arranged " or " These trays....." pointing to the trays, not to some objects placed on them?

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