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

GapFillTyping_MTU4NDM=

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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Submitted by Pinchi on Sat, 07/11/2015 - 00:42

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Hi, there everyone. I am new to the site. I took the short quiz and i got #4 wrong. May i have some feed back to why i got this wrong? I picked THIS over THESES. Here is the example given by these terms. 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? 4. ............... trousers aren't the right size. Can I change them? The trousers is one item not 2 as oppose to shoes which is plural.

Hello Pinchi,

'Trousers' is one item physically, but it is a plural noun grammatically and therefore we use a plural verb ('...trousers are...') and a plural determiner ('...these trousers...').

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ferorun on Thu, 15/10/2015 - 22:14

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Hello Teacher, I do not undersand why on this question "Whose shoes are these?" the noun "shoes" goes after the question word. In contrast on this question "Whose is that silver Mercedes over there?" the verb "is" goes after the question word. Thanks in advance.

Hello Ferorun,

These questions can be formed in two ways, with the same meaning:

Whose shoes are these?

Whose are these shoes?

Whose is that silver Mercedes?

Whose silver Mercedes is that?

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Majdar on Sat, 26/09/2015 - 11:35

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hello, 1 " He is one of those who always (asks / ask) questions " which is correct? to say ask or asks ? the verb ask here refer to Those kind of people or to He ? 2 These is good or These are good These goes with "is" or "are" ? dose depends on the word after "good" if it's singular or pruler? Thanks in Advance

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 27/09/2015 - 08:49

In reply to by Majdar

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Hello Majdar,

In 1, 'ask' is correct because 'who' refers to 'those', i.e. is plural. In 2, the second one is correct because 'these' is plural and requires a plural verb form. To say this with 'this', you would say 'This is good'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Katarina128 on Thu, 24/09/2015 - 01:41

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Dear Sir/Madam, I don't understand difference between two rules written here on the website: - in this lesson is written that we use this to introduce ourselves to begin a conversation on the phone: Hello, this is David, Can I speak to Sally? and - in one of previous (there and is) is written that we use it to talk about ourselves on the telephone: Hello. It’s George. Can you explain me those differences? Thank you in advance! Best regards, Katarina

Hello Katarina,

Most of the time, there's really no difference between these two forms – they are simply two different ways of saying the same (which is quite common!). 

By the way, just so you know, eventually we will answer your other questions, but in general, please take some time to look for answers yourself before asking here. We're happy to answer questions, but doing so is only part of our work and we get many comments every day. We simply can't answer more than one question per user per day.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by akatsuki on Sun, 30/08/2015 - 06:59

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How does "that" work here? It's that I don't like Chinese food. It's just that I love you. And also what does "it" refer to?

Hello akatsuki,

'It' here is an example of a dummy subject - see this page for more information on this.

The meaning of 'that' in these sentences is context-dependent, so it is hard to say without seeing the whole context. It is likely that the meaning is as follows:

It's (caused by / because of the fact) that I don't like Chinese food.

It's just (the case / a fact / true) that I love you.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ko on Sun, 02/08/2015 - 17:25

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Hello Teacher, Could you please tell me the usage of "that" here? 1. The father is glad that he has got his daughter married to a nice young man. 2. She is glad that she has passed the examination. 3. The teacher insisted that the boys should attend moral instruction classes. I often confused by the use of That here, Thanks in advance, Ramachandran G,

Hello Ramachandran G,

In all of these sentences 'that' is not essential and can be omitted if the speaker chooses.

'That' has many uses, both lexical and grammatical. It can be used as the object of a preposition, to introduce subordinate clauses, for example (as in the examples above).

This page will help you with many of those uses. You can also find information here and here.

I hope those links are useful.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by adtyagrwl3 on Fri, 03/07/2015 - 08:41

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Hello Sir, I think I've been using the word 'them' incorrectly and would like to check it with you. Suppose I am giving a command regarding some clothes and the listener knows I am talking about those clothes, which one of these sentences is correct: 1) These are not my clothes. Take them away. 2) These are not my clothes. Take those away. Thank you

Hello adtyagrwl3,

The first sentence is correct. We would only use 'those' if there were several piles of clothes and we wanted to be sure that the other person did not make a mistake and take the wrong clothes away.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mimidparis on Fri, 26/06/2015 - 16:10

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hello, I seem to understand the link with geographical proximity this/that. What happens when there is no geographical proximity but sequence in a text. Example : Someone sends news via email. I want to briefly comment and thank. Can I say "thanks for these news" or "thanks for those news"? Regards. Michel

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 27/06/2015 - 06:44

In reply to by mimidparis

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Hello mimidparis,

Although 'news' looks plural it is in fact singular, so you should say 'this news' or 'that news'. The difference between the two is proximity, as you say, but this can be psychological proximity. In other words, it can be quite subjective. It would be perfectly acceptable to use either 'this' or 'that' in the sentence. 'This' suggests less distance, which may mean that the news is more relevant to you, or is 'fresher', or relates directly to you. 'That' suggests the opposite, but the difference is very subtle.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mathivanan palraj on Mon, 22/02/2016 - 10:44

In reply to by mimidparis

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If the other person is on line it is good to use "thanks for this news". If you think your message will reach the other person later, then you can use "thanks for that news".

Submitted by chikapu on Thu, 28/05/2015 - 06:26

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My students wrote this: What are lions? They are these(with a picture). Is this acceptable in writing?

Hello chikapu,

It's not exactly incorrect, but it'd sound a bit more natural to say something like 'What are lions? These are:'

By the way, if you're an English teacher, be sure to check out our sister site TeachingEnglish, which has lots of useful resources for English teachers.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Joanne Fleurs on Tue, 26/05/2015 - 22:27

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Hello LearnEnglish Team. Thank you so much for your time in this hard work: to make us learn English properly.

Submitted by Joanne Fleurs on Tue, 26/05/2015 - 01:53

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Hello LearnEnglish Team. Thank you so much for your time in this hard work: to make us learn English properly.

Submitted by JacoboF on Sun, 24/05/2015 - 18:34

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Hi everyone. I have a doubt about the use of THESE. You explained that we don't use "these are John and Michel" What is the grammal rule behind that? greetings from Mexico

Hello JacoboF,

When 'this' is used to identify who people are (e.g. 'this is Jacobo'), it's used in the singular only. As far as I know there is no rule that explains this – it simply reflects the way people speak and what has become accepted by native speakers.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mathivanan palraj on Mon, 22/02/2016 - 10:54

In reply to by JacoboF

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"These are John and Michael' sounds a bit awkward especially when you introduce people. Either you say "This is John and this is Michael" or "They are John and Michael" depending upon the proximity.

Submitted by fcxg67 on Sun, 03/05/2015 - 17:41

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Ok, here's a question that's been dogging me. Please tell me which is correct: "There is a little of this and that in the soup." or "There is a little of this and OF that in the soup." If you can point me to a specific grammatical rule, I'd be grateful. Thank you.

Hello fcxg67,

Both of these are correct. They are examples of ellipsis: omitting words to avoid unnecessary repetition. The 'full' sentence (without ellipsis) would be:

There is a little of this in the soup and there is a little of that in the soup.

Obviously, the repetition does not help to make the sentence easier to understand or to sound better! You can omit various parts, depending on your preference, style, choice of emphasis, the context and so on:

There is a little of this and there is a little of that in the soup.

There is a little of this in the soup and there is a little of that.

There is a little of this and a little of that in the soup.

There is a little of this and of that in the soup.

There is a little of this and that in the soup.

As you can see, English is a very flexible language!

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Danielle N on Mon, 13/04/2015 - 15:04

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Hello, LearnEnglish Team, May I know what is the subject in the following sentence? 'He is one of those who always (asks / ask) questions.' Is it 'he' or 'those'? Thank you. Best wishes, Danielle

Hello Danielle,

A sentence can have several subjects. The subject of the verb 'is' is 'he'. The subject of the verb 'asks/ask' is 'who'.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by neh7272 on Sun, 29/03/2015 - 17:27

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Is there is any difference between - ' this is Joe' and ' it is Joe' , when one introduce oneself on phone

Hi neh,

No, there's no significant difference between these two forms, though note that 'it's Joe' would be much more common than 'it is Joe'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by victoria yaralova on Tue, 17/03/2015 - 15:05

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Guys, you are the best. thank you for such good lessons

Submitted by abdulrhman almeklafi on Wed, 31/12/2014 - 17:46

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perfect

Submitted by bakhishbeyli on Sun, 14/12/2014 - 13:26

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That is fine! Huge thanks for these materials!

Submitted by FOE Bernard on Tue, 11/11/2014 - 09:50

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Hi i don't understand the use of those and these very well. Espacially on differences situations concerning people. thx

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 11/11/2014 - 17:54

In reply to by FOE Bernard

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Hi FOE Bernard,

The explanation here is quite clear so I'm not sure which part is confusing for you. Perhaps you could give us a specific example which you don't understand, and we'll be happy to explain it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emmanuelcebr on Mon, 03/11/2014 - 11:26

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Thanks for this explanation.

Submitted by dharshan on Mon, 03/11/2014 - 06:08

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i got full mark feeling happy.....

Submitted by ayu pertiwi sutrisno on Wed, 24/09/2014 - 11:51

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now i understand. they key is using in singular and plural

Submitted by shakirhussain on Fri, 12/09/2014 - 11:39

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I got 100% in this.

Submitted by Cahenriq on Thu, 31/07/2014 - 13:21

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Hello guys! I have a doubt concerning the use of "this" or "that" while writing. So, for example, if i say: "It is time of being a child, playing with other kids and toys. THIS is part of having a happy childhood and THIS will also help them to develop some skills. or, "Having compromises seems a good way to prepare children to the future. THAT will contribute to make them acquire some sense of responsibility. All THAT may contribute to turn the children into healthy adults. Is the use of "this" and "that" right in the sentences above? I wrote them some time ago and I just "try to feel" when to use this or that, but i am not sure when to use one or another. Is there a rule I can follow or any site I can read more about it? I have already searched on google, but there is not anything specific about ... THAT/THIS.

Hi Cahenriq,

Both this and that are commonly used to refer back to something that we've just written about. When we are simply making a brief comment about the previous subject, that is more commonly used, but when we have more to say about the topic we're referring back to, this is generally used. To my ears, this sounds better in both of the texts you mention, because in both cases you are explaining the issue in more detail. Using this and that in this way is not easy, by the way, so don't despair if you find it difficult!

I expect it will be difficult to find pages devoted exclusively to this topic, but if you do internet searches for 'cohesion reference words', I think you'll find some interesting pages.

By the way, in the second text, I think you might want to consider using the word 'commitment' instead of 'compromise' - perhaps I'm wrong, but if you look up both words in the dictionary, I'm sure which one you mean will be clear.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rajneesh Kumar on Mon, 21/07/2014 - 11:56

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Hello The LearnEnglish Team, We use that for singular and those for plural, then why 'that' is used here: -to talk about things that are not near us. Thanks, Rajneesh

Submitted by Rezaa on Sat, 12/07/2014 - 22:24

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Are these right, why? Have you got any bottled water? Sparkling ones. I have two cars. which one do you like? What flavour ice-cream is that? Rasberry ones.