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

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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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTU4NDQ=

 

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Hi fabianazabala,

Since we're normally holding whatever purchase we want to return in our hands when we ask this question, the answer marked as correct here is 'These'. But 'Those' could be correct if you weren't holding the trousers in your hand when you asked the question.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Wong Pui Yi on Wed, 12/07/2017 - 12:27

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Hi, may I please ask if this sentence is correct? - These are my jacket and shoes. - Those are my teddy bear and yo-yo. Thanks!

Hi Wong Pui Yi,

The first sentence should start with 'This' and the second sentence should start with 'That'.

We choose singular (this/that) or plural (these/those) demonstratives according to the first noun in the list. In your sentences the first nouns ('jacket' and 'teddy bear') are singular, so we use singular demonstratives.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sun, 09/07/2017 - 10:58

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Sir, My Dady is planning to buy a mobile, So he asks me to select one of the given options, and I just simply say "Dad, Which should be brought it depends on you" Now Could I also say it in the following manners ? "Dad, Which is to be brought depends on you", "Dad, Which to be brought depends on you" or "Dad, Which to bring depends on you" which are right ? And One last question Which Is to be brought (it) depends on you. is 'it' optional in this sentence or not ? please help.

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sun, 02/07/2017 - 03:08

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Sir, We go to a mobile shop to buy a mobile 'me and my Dad' Now I see a mobile and say "Dad, let's buy that mobile, that is very fantastic and its battery back is also good" Now writing this sentence I understood something that 'The word That here is demonstrative pronoun or adjective ? but could only it be a subject of sentence ? and in that sentence could we use its, his and her as its possessive pronoun ?

Submitted by Lelouch9 on Tue, 16/05/2017 - 21:02

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Excuse me, Which one is correct ?! Who said that or who said this. For ex: If someone tweet an information and I want to ask about who said that/This ? In this situation which one is the best ?

Hello Lelouch9,

The choice is really context-dependent but I would say that in general 'that' is used to refer to things further away and 'this' to things closer. In terms of time, we would use 'that' when we are referring back to something that was said before and 'this' when we repeat the quote in our question.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HAMMAD AHMED SHAH on Sat, 22/04/2017 - 16:22

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WARNING: We don’t say These are John and Michael. We say This is John and this is Michael. Bur sir ,how below sentence is correct then ? I'm John and ..these... are my children Molly and Jake.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 23/04/2017 - 07:44

In reply to by HAMMAD AHMED SHAH

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Hello HAMMAD AHMED SHAH,

The reason we use 'these' in the second sentence is because we have a plural noun ('children') before the names. Compare the following:

This is John and Michael.

These are my friends, John and Michael.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bilal.Mustafa on Thu, 06/04/2017 - 12:29

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Hello Sir, Which is a better option to introduce ourselves on phone or email? "It" or "this"? I mean "This is Bilal here." or "It is Bilal here."? Which one is most recommended? Thank you.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 07/04/2017 - 07:00

In reply to by Bilal.Mustafa

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Hello Bilal.Mustafa,

We would use 'this' rather than 'it' but there are several options:

Hello, this is Bilal.

Hello, Bilal here.

Hello, my name is Bilal. I'm calling to ask...

The last of these is more formal and would be used when we are phoning someone we do not know.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by PonchoTM on Mon, 03/04/2017 - 17:32

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Hello. Excuse me, I have a serious doubt. I was always taught that in the sentence "this chicken" the word "this" is an adjective. The correct use of "this" as a pronoun would be: "this is my chicken". Or even better "this one is mine". Since an adjective is always next to the noun, as it is understood from the origin of the word in latin. While a pronoun is always substituting the noun, hence the prefix PRO: on behalf of... (the) NOUN.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 04/04/2017 - 06:51

In reply to by PonchoTM

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Hello PonchoTM,

'This' can function as a pronoun, as described on this page. It can also function, as you say, in a different way as a determiner. Determiners have an adjectival role but have a particular function. You can read about determiners here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sun, 02/04/2017 - 11:59

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Sir, Could you please tell me which sentence is right of following ( The less electricity you use, the less bill you will get, Or You will get the bill as less as you use the electricity ? ) Sir, Where should I use The comparative The and as adjective as ? Please explain

Hello SonuKumar,

The best way to formulate this sentence would be one of the following:

The less electricity you use, the lower the bill you will get.

The less electricity you use, the lower your bill will be.

You can find information on the as... as... construction on our pages on comparative forms:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/quick-grammar/comparing-and-contrasting-modifying-comparatives

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/adjectives/comparative-and-superlative-adjectives

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by IraR on Wed, 29/03/2017 - 10:45

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Hello everyone! Please help me to understand.. I have a question about what to choose- THIS or THAT. I'm preparing for IELTS, the sentences from Writing task 1. There I should describe the bar chart about how many minutes did people in some years. Here are the sentences: "The highest position is for so-called Local kind. In 1995 more than 70 billions minutes were talked by this / or that -? Line." Thank you Ira

Hello IraR,

It's hard for me to comment without actually seeing the chart itself, as I don't see the thing which you are describing. However, I think we would formulate the sentence differently and say something like this:

The chart shows that the category with the most minutes was 'Local', with 70 billion minutes spoken in 1995.

There are quite a few errors in your sentences. I think it would be helpful for you to have a teacher work through them with you. If you do not have a teacher then you can find out about IELTS courses at the British Council on our page for your country: https://www.britishcouncil.ru/ 

Please also visit, if you have not already, our site for IELTS candidates: TakeIELTS. You'll find tips, suggestions, practice materials, mock exam papers and sample answers there to help you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Tanya.ru on Mon, 27/03/2017 - 17:43

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Hello. I can't understand the difference between: We use it to talk about ourselves: • on the telephone: Hello. It’s George. We use this (singular) and these (plural) as pronouns: to introduce ourselves to begin a conversation on the phone: Hello, this is David, Can I speak to Sally? Can you help me, please. Thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 28/03/2017 - 07:24

In reply to by Tanya.ru

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Hello Tanya.ru,

We can begin a conversation in either way but there is a slight difference. If I know the person very well then 'It's George' is more likely. We begin in this way when we are speaking to someone who we know well and speak to often, so that the call is not completely unexpected.

'This is George' would be used when the other person knows you but does not necessarily expect a call, or might be surprised by the call.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by simonenmourao on Wed, 22/03/2017 - 13:07

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Wedded wife. I looked for in the dictionary and these have the same meaning. Can´t we say only wife?

Hello simonenmourao,

Yes, 'wedded wife' is pretty unusual -- 'wife' is much more common and more appropriate for most contexts.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kieuoanhtran on Mon, 06/03/2017 - 04:52

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oh, I finish all the sentences. That's great !

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sat, 04/03/2017 - 13:41

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Sir, I'm sorry to post it here but I did not really find How to post it on comparing and contrasting-modifying comprative page. please turn that on. Sir, I say to my brother " The harder you work The earlier you will get success". could I also say that You will get success as earlier as you work harder or as earlier as harder you work. One last question, you will remember me as much as you forget me or The more you forget the more you remember what should I say ?

Hello SonuKumar,

The alternatives to the 'the' + comparative + 'the' + comparative construction that you ask about are not grammatically correct. 'You will remember me as much as you forget me' and 'The more you forget the more you remember are grammatically correct, though.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SonuKumar on Sat, 04/03/2017 - 09:54

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Sir what is the full form that's what ? is it that is what or that was what ? if both please explain and when do we use this is what rather than that is what?

Hello SonuKumar,

'that's' can be a contraction of either 'that is' or 'that has', but not 'that was', so here it must mean 'that is what'.

I'm afraid we can't explain the full context for things like this - there are simply too many possibilities and we are not here to provide private tuition but rather answer specific questions, mostly about the content on our website. If you have a specific context in mind, however, feel free to ask us about it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Anh Tu 24 on Mon, 20/02/2017 - 13:57

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Hello, What is different between "Who's that ?" and "Who's there ?" ?

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 20/02/2017 - 14:38

In reply to by Anh Tu 24

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Hello Anh Tu 24,

In most contexts, there is essentially no difference in meaning – both ask about the identity of a person that is not visible. 'Who's there?' might more likely be used in a situation where you're not expecting a person to be there (e.g. when you arrive home and sense that someone else is there – creepy!) and 'Who's that?' might more likely be used when in a situation where someone being there is not a surprise (e.g. when you make a phone call and don't recognise the other person's voice).

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ahmednagar on Sat, 11/02/2017 - 20:47

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hello sir how are you? I'm familiar with the rules of "that" but i hear people say all the time. 1) that's them in the library. 2) that's them in the car about whom i was talking. my question is according to rules we use "that" for singular that are not near us. why they use "that" here. does that similar with "it" or dummy construction. for instance. it's them they're here. it's the parents who were protesting. correct me if I'm mistaken thanks advanced.

Hello ahmednagar,

These phrases are all in common use. They are examples of non-standard forms which are not, perhaps, entirely grammatically correct but have become accepted through use. They are quite informal and are used in spoken, rather than written, English.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by taj25 on Tue, 10/01/2017 - 11:14

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hi peter Have you read all of these books? could i use " did" instead of have - did you read all of these books? which is the correct way both of these sentence?

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 11/01/2017 - 07:55

In reply to by taj25

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Hi taj25,

Both of these are correct. Your question is about the past simple and present perfect forms and you can find pages on each of these, including when they are used, in our grammar section.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by KateKasia on Wed, 14/12/2016 - 21:18

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Hi English Team, I am talking about my work experience: 'I am familiar with every aspect of a design and any kind of engineering drawings - construction and installations. I am able to analyze THESE/THOSE? drawings and coordinate them. ' These or Those? Any other advice? Thank you a lot!

Hello KateKasia,

I would suggest the following:

I am familiar with all aspects of design and all kinds of engineering drawings, including construction and installations. I am able to analyze such drawings and coordinate them.

You could replace 'such' with 'these' but I think 'such' is better here in terms of style.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much Peter. May I have one more question? "all aspects of design". Each time I am confused about "a" and "an" as a word "design" is countable, and I noticed many sentences where it "a", "an" are omitted. Is that because "design" describes discipline? All because we use "of"? Could you give me a clue where to look for an answer? Thank you again!

Hello KateKasia,

In your sentence you are not talking about any particular design but rather about the field (discipline) of design. This is a general meaning and we do not use any article in this context:

all aspects of literature

all aspects of finance

all aspects of science

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ibrahim Elwy on Tue, 13/12/2016 - 19:17

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Hello when I say: " I think that this book is mine" , how is it phrased to be for far book ? I mean can I say " I think that that book is mine " ? If it is wrong then what is write ? thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 14/12/2016 - 07:49

In reply to by Ibrahim Elwy

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Hello Ibrahim Elwy,

'This' and 'that' are very much context dependent. We use 'this' generally when something is close to us and 'that' when it is further away. It is correct to say 'I think that book is mine'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Balduvina Armas on Tue, 06/12/2016 - 11:39

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Thanks so much. I'm learning something new everyday.

Submitted by Hazardous on Mon, 28/11/2016 - 12:45

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Hello Team! I'm sorry for a noob question, "- to introduce ourselves to begin a conversation on the phone: Hello, this is David, Can I speak to Sally?" Can I replace THIS with IT? Since I'm going to begin a conversation? Thanks!!:)
I have noticed this question has been asked quite a few times. And maybe both are interchangeable. I'm sorry. Although I only wanted to know the usage of It and This with respect to 'beginning' a conversation on the phone. Can we use IT when we begin a conversation ...? Thank you so much.

Hello again Hazardous,

As I said above, 'this is ...' is really the most common way to identify yourself at the beginning of a phone conversation. In a face-to-face conversation, there are many different ways to begin one.

If you have some specific conversation in mind, please let us know and we'll let you know what we think.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Hazardous,

It's possible to say 'it's David' instead, but it's far more common to say 'this is David'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I found a rule that we should use: "this is .....". It is more common and natural:)

Submitted by Yuriy UA on Wed, 09/11/2016 - 21:03

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Hello, The LearnEnglish Team! Could you help me, please? Which of the following sentences is correct? [about specific foods] "They are protein, vitamins and fiber". Or "They are proteins, vitamins and fiber". Is it possible to use a singular countable noun like "protein" soon after "They are" provided there are two more words followed (vitamins and fiber)? Could both of those sentences be correct? It would be really kind of you if you could help! Thanks a lot in advance!

Hello Yuriy UA,

It is very hard to say without knowing the context, as it may be that 'They contain...' is better than 'They are...' here. However in answer to your question, it is possible to use the singular form here if the 'are' refers to items in a list:

Three constituents are important here. They are protein, vitamins and fibre.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sofiikas on Sun, 07/08/2016 - 12:57

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Hello. what about comments or feedbacks. Do I need to use it or that? Smth like That's a good idea. or It's nice weather today. What's the difference? Thanks!

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 07/08/2016 - 21:06

In reply to by sofiikas

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Hello sofiikaas,

That really depends on what you say. 'That's a good idea' is a great way to give feedback. 'It's nice weather today' sounds a little unnatural, though certainly intelligible - people usually say something like 'The weather is nice today' instead. I'm afraid there aren't always good reasons that explain why people say one thing and not another - in some cases it's just what people say.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team