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

Hi.
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.
Thanks.

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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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