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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




Can you please explain why did we choose those and that in the following questions in the "Demonstratives with nouns" part?
- I love those earrings you're wearing. Were they a present?
- I like that shirt. It looks good on you.
Of course, it works in these questions by the process of elimination, but I'm to talking to these people, and they are wearing a shirt/earrings, so they are near me. Why can't I use these and this instead?

Hello H_L,

You could use this and these in your examples. Generally, that/those are used for things we perceive as more distant and this/these for things we perceive as closer. However, this perception is not a physical distance, but a psychological distance. It's really about whether I consider them to be mine or temporarily in my possession as opposed to considering them as belonging or being held by someone else.

For example, if I were touching the earrings, I would likely use these. If I were pointing to them in someone else's ears then I would likely say those.



The LearnEnglish Team

Now I understand, I thought it was a physical distance, and I'll choose the demonstratives based on how near or far things/people are from me.
Thank you.

"we use that to reply to someone something has said" why here have no preposition between someone and something in the above sentence.

Hello Ridg Wick,

You have the sentence confused. It should be '...something someone...', not '...someone something...'.


No preposition is needed in the sentence. It can be rephrased as follows:

We use that to reply to something someone has said.

We use that to reply to a thing (which) a person has said.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hi! I have a question.
Is all these trouble, all these problem and all these concern are grammatically correct?
We can use singular noun by its form but plural in meaning if uncountable/collective noun. Ahhhhhhh can't even deliver my point. Phew.

Hi! I've got a question.

It's possible to say These are a drum and a car.

Thanks for you help

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.

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