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

MultipleChoice_MTU4MjM=

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

Matching_MTU4MjQ=

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTU4NDQ=

 

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Soumis par sofiikas le sam 06/08/2016 - 12:37

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I have a question about THIS and IT when introducing on the phone. Which one is correct or both are? Hey. It's John or This is John?

Hello sofiikas,

Both 'this is' and 'it's' are used to identify yourself when answering the phone. There's no significant difference in meaning or use as far as I know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team 

Soumis par RECCORD le lun 25/07/2016 - 17:05

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Hello! Why That/that is the true answers here, please? What was ............... you said? This / this That / that These / these Those / those All the best! MIX RECCORD

Soumis par Peter M. le mar 26/07/2016 - 07:25

En réponse à par RECCORD

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Hello Reccord,

The reason is on the page above:

We also use that to refer back to something someone said or did

Here the speaker is referring back to something that was said before.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par dziaucyna le jeu 23/06/2016 - 04:22

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Hello What's the difference when speaking on the phone between: Hello, this is David. and Hello, It's David. And the same for the situation when you introduce people. Thank you in advance.

Soumis par Kirk le jeu 23/06/2016 - 06:20

En réponse à par dziaucyna

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Hello dziaucyna,

As far as I know, there's no real difference between using 'it' and 'this' on the phone to identify yourself. I personally use 'this' much more often than 'it', but both are perfectly correct. 

When introducing people, 'this' is used, not 'it'. See our it and there page for a bit more information on this. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par RTris le sam 28/05/2016 - 19:04

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Is it possible to replace the word "that" by "it"? Like for these examples: 1.Shall we go to the cinema? - Yes, that’s a good idea. or Yes, It's a good idea 2. When the phone rang and you answered the call (Hello! Who is this? instead of Who is it?

Hello RTris,

In the first example you need to use 'that' and not 'it'. Although people would understand if you said 'it', the sentence would not be standard English.

In the second example, it's possible to say 'this' as well as 'it', but the version with 'this' may sound slightly aggressive - more like a challenge than a greeting. Of course, the tone of voice has a big role to play here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par gurpriya le mer 13/04/2016 - 08:52

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hello sir . how is "This" and "It" used in sentences like It is John and this is Michael. instead of This is John and this is Michael.
"It" is used to identify a person rather than to introduce them. When we want to introduce someone, we use "this".

Soumis par gurpriya le mer 13/04/2016 - 08:49

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hello sir , Can it be : It is a nice cup of tea . instead of This is a nice cup of tea .

Hello gurpriya,

Grammatically both are possible, but 'this' is much more likely if we have the cup of team in front of us. However, without a context it is not possible to say which is the better choice.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Chong Cheng Feng le lun 04/04/2016 - 14:08

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When do we need to use ' Why is that?' and How to use it

Hello Chong Cheng Feng,

In general, 'Why is that?' means the same thing as 'Why?' As far as I can tell, you could use it in most situations where you would say 'why?', e.g. 'My sister doesn't like ice cream' - 'Why?' (or: 'Why is that?) - 'She's allergic to milk.'

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par no way le sam 19/03/2016 - 17:28

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Hi, Sir I have problem in the last topic it does not work with me. can you help me

Soumis par Kirk le dim 20/03/2016 - 07:58

En réponse à par no way

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Hello no way,

Do you mean that you can't see the task? I've just completed the task successfully, so it seems to be working now. Have you tried viewing this page on a different browser? Sometimes that will solve the problem. If the page still isn't working for you, please let us know what the specific problem is and what browser and browser version you're using.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Moeka le jeu 10/03/2016 - 05:29

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Hi, sir. I have a question about pronoun. In this sentence 'Everyone in her class loves the beautiful flowers.' preposition 'of' can't be used? While in this sentence 'Everyone of her family will go.' the preposition 'of' was used instead of 'in'? Please enlighten me. Thanks.

Hello Moeka,

'of' is not correct in the first sentence, nor does it sound correct to me in the second sentence. I would say 'in' in both sentences, not 'for'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Soumis par AdrianW le mar 16/02/2016 - 18:30

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Hi, here's the sentence that I've been struggling for a while: "why do you like torturing me with these/those hints everyday?" so should i say these or those? heeeelp

Soumis par tomatosama le mer 17/02/2016 - 05:48

En réponse à par AdrianW

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I wouldn't call myself an expert but I will try to help you as well as I can. Anyway, I'd like to remark that the usage of "these" and "those" depends pretty much on the context. So it'll be easier to explain if you could provide a little background. i can help you very much more efficiently that way. You would say "Those hints" for a situation where you are reacting to hints you have gotten in the past and not the hints you got right that moment. As I said, it can also be used differently based on the context. E.g. 1) They: I already gave you so many hints. You: why do you like torturing me with those hints everyday? Now, if they just gave you another hint right now which caused you to react, You would react with use "these" because this time you are pointing towards the current hint including the hints you've gotten in the past. You: What did you bring for lunch today? They: I'll give you a hint. You like it yet you don't, guess what it is? You: why do you like torturing me with these hints everyday? If you still don't get it (Which is the most probable situation due to my cluttered style of writing), Please provide me the context, I'll do my best to help :) Or you can wait for someone else to answer.
context: one musician has been throwing hints about the new album for couple of months now and i just wanted to ask him like "why do you like torturing your fans with these hints so much?" so that's what i wanted to say...so is it correct at all? I mean, does this question make sense? if no, can you help me and tell me how it should be written so it'd mean the same but would make sense?! :)

Soumis par Kirk le mer 17/02/2016 - 07:35

En réponse à par AdrianW

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Hello AdrianW,

What tomatosama (thanks, tomatosama!) says is correct. 'that' is used for things that are distant from us (whether in space or time) and 'this' for things that are closer.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par tomatosama le mar 16/02/2016 - 11:17

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Is the sentence "Only those should kill others who are prepared to die themselves" correct? The intention is to tell a person that they should only kill someone if they themselves have the resolve to die. A quick response is appreciated.

Hello tomatosama,

The word order in the sentence should be different:

Only those who are prepared to die themselves should kill others.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is the way I put it wrong or does it only feel clumsy? I mean, Is this change necessary?

Soumis par emirjuve le lun 15/02/2016 - 19:11

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Please if you could help me: What is correct: because THESE or THOSE disputes are accompanied by growing military power....

Hello emirjuve,

Both are possible. It depends on the context and the co-text. I would say 'these' is more likely if you have just referred to the disputes, and 'those' is really only likely if you are discussing different kinds of disputes and want to emphasise that you are referring back to an earlier kind.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par JuliaF le sam 06/02/2016 - 09:39

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What are these? They are my posters. (it's in the text book) What are these? These are my posters. (is this variant possible?) ps to get the comment page i need to write a comment in any case + verify it, why can't i reply to a person directly? VERY inconvenient

Hello JuliaF,

I think the earlier answer deals with this very clearly. As Kirk said, we use 'these' when we want to distinguish between two alternatives. We would only say 'These are my posters' if we have, for example, several groups of posters and we want to say 'these are mine, not those'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par JuliaF le ven 05/02/2016 - 20:29

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Hello Here is the Q The exercise: Look here.What are_________? Are THEY computer games??? Why do we use THEY instead of THESE in the third sentence?? ps: in this exrs you need to put this, that, these or those this part i dont understand Would you help me, please? reply ASAP pls

Soumis par Kirk le sam 06/02/2016 - 08:08

En réponse à par JuliaF

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Hello Julia,

Demonstratives such as 'these' are normally only used when we need to clearly indicate which object we are referring to versus another object. In this case, perhaps there are some red boxes and some yellow boxes on a table in a shop. You point to the red ones that are near you and use 'these' to refer to them; if you were referring to the yellow boxes that are farther away, you'd say 'those'.

After that, it's clear which boxes you are speaking about, so you should just use a normal pronoun such as 'they'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par rushil_ahuja le jeu 04/02/2016 - 09:19

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Hi How can we introduce ourselves on the phone. If I say on the phone, "Hello, it's rushil this side", will I be wrong ?

Soumis par Kirk le ven 05/02/2016 - 06:39

En réponse à par rushil_ahuja

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Hello Rushil,

That's not a standard way of answering the phone in British or American English, though it might be used in other places. Instead, I'd recommend 'Hello, this is Rushil' or 'Hello, Rushil speaking'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Ayman Alkaddour le sam 30/01/2016 - 11:07

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hello learnenglish.britishcouncil.org staff, Thank you for your pretty and useful job that you are doing here Can we use "that" and "those" to talk about people? you mentioned that for "this" and these" but not for "that" and "those".

Hello Ayman,

'that' and 'those' can be used before nouns that are people (e.g. 'those people over there', 'that woman next to Ali'). They can also be used as pronouns in some cases (e.g. 'that is my sister' when you are indicating someone) but in general situations, 'he' or 'she' or 'they' are used instead.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par allaeddin le lun 18/01/2016 - 19:58

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Above, it explains that we use "This" to introduce ourselves on the phone. In a previous topic, it was explained that we use "it" as in " It is Jone" when on the phone. Could you please elaborate more on the differences in usage?

Hello allaeddin,

In general, 'this is + name' is more commonly used to introduce yourself on the phone than 'it is + name', but both are possible. Though if you answer the phone and the call is, for example, for your sister from her friend Dunia, you would say to your sister 'It's Dunia' (not 'This is Dunia').

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par SPM le jeu 14/01/2016 - 22:43

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We use "there" to talk about something near us while "over there" to refer to something not near us. :))

Soumis par gheghe le lun 11/01/2016 - 19:42

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Hello, If you are looking to the sentence no 6 you can see that you can use :"I am B... and these are my friends Mary and Lou". It is correct this form or not? The author that he wrote the grammar rules say that the correct form is: I am B.. and these is my friends Mary and Lou". Witch form is correct?

Soumis par Kirk le mar 12/01/2016 - 07:55

En réponse à par gheghe

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Hello gheghe,

I'm afraid you've misunderstood the explanation above. Please read it again carefully:

- to introduce people:

This is Janet.
These are my friends, John and Michael. (correct)

WARNING:
We don’t say 'These are John and Michael.'
We say 'This is John and this is Michael.'

Does that clarify it for you?

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par lith le dim 22/11/2015 - 14:52

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Hello why we can not say (These are John and Michael )

Soumis par Kirk le lun 23/11/2015 - 06:48

En réponse à par lith

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Hello lith,

Although it's completely intelligible, it's just something that is not said by native speakers.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par maythusoe le mer 18/11/2015 - 09:17

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Teacher, Why i can't see the exercise? I used this site yesterday, but now can't open. I see the explanation, but can't use exercise . Why? teacher . Please, reply me. Thank u , sir.

Soumis par Kirk le mer 18/11/2015 - 10:26

En réponse à par maythusoe

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Hello maythusoe,

I can see the exercise and it works. I'd suggest you download and install the latest version of the Adobe Flash Player on your device – this will probably solve the problem. If that doesn't work, please try using a different browser or device to see if it works there. And if none of these ideas work, please let us know.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team