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?



I was wondering if I could use 'this' and 'that' intercheangeably in the next context:
"I live in Germany, this/that means I'm German.
For non-native speakers, there is always room for insecurities.
I really appreciate your help.

Hi Marua,

People use both in this kind of situation, but there is a difference in use. We tend to use 'this' when we are going to explain what we mean in a more extended way and to use 'that' when we're making a short comment.

So, in your example, if you are about to explain more about what being German means, 'this' would probably be better. If you're going to speak about something else, then 'that' would probably be better.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

In the previous section: It and They, it was written:

We use it to talk about ourselves:

• on the telephone:

Hello. It’s George.

Now in this section, this is also said to be used in a similar manner. Am I right? Both it or this can be used to introduce ourselves on phone.
Please guide me.
thanks in advance.

Hello pencil,

Yes, you have several options. All of the following are fine:

Hello. This is George.

Hello. It's George (here).

Hello. George here.



The LearnEnglish Team

I have a question:

"Could you buy me __ (this / that)?" Anne asked, pointing to a toy in a catalog.

In this sentence why should we use "this"? Why don't we use "that", as you mentioned when we talk about things not near us, we usually use that.

Kind regards

Hello shajing3724,

Generally, we use 'this' for things close to us, as you say. Anne is pointing at a toy in the catalogue and so it is close to her, visually speaking.



The LearnEnglish Team

In formal writing, is there a difference between this and that, or these and those?
Which of the following should I use in a formal situation?

I have a house. This property was bought twenty years ago.
I have a house. That property was bought twenty years ago.
I have a house. The property was bought twenty years ago.

Hello TheMouseofAfterTomorrow,

The meanings of determiners such as this/these and that/those do not change with the formality of the context. Generally, we use that/these (singular/plural) to refer to something which we consider closer to us in some way (physical distance, emotional distance and distance in time) and we use that/those to refer to something which is more distant.

If we are not trying to distinguish one house from another then we use the once it has been introduced, so 'the' would be appropriate in your example.

If we have two houses and we want to distinguish between them then we can use this and that:

I own two houses on this street. This one I inherited from my parents and that one across the road I bought two years ago.



The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you.

Hey I have a questions.

So if I am referring to a situation that happened int he past. Which one do I use?

7th of February, the laboratory. These are the date and location of...

7th of February, the laboratory. Those were the data and location of....