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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Hello Rezaa,

The answers to the questions are not correct because 'one' and 'ones' are only used with count nouns, and water and ice-cream are uncount nouns as they are used in your questions.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tala90 on Sat, 05/07/2014 - 15:08

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what do you mean about (((((((((( We also use this, these, that and those with nouns to show proximity)))))))))) to show proximity.....??????

Hello tala90,

One of the main uses of these items is to show what is near ('this'/'these') and what is further away ('that/'those').  That is what is meant by showing proximity.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by HA Qutub on Fri, 20/06/2014 - 08:40

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Hello ,, is it correct if I said " I don't even remember liking those pages that are appearing on my timeline" and " I laughed like a mad woman because I remembered what we did to those British ladies " thank you in advance and sorry for being a bothersome

Hello HA Qutub,

Yes, those sentences are grammatically correct.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by niyaaa on Mon, 09/06/2014 - 12:22

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Should it be we need to know all those/these words of slang to survive in a school?

Hello niyaaa,

I'm not sure what your question means.  Are you asking if slang is necessary in British schools in order to survive?  Or are you asking if 'these' or 'those' is correct in that sentence?  If you can clarify your question then we'll be happy to answer.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Bob kim on Wed, 21/05/2014 - 06:46

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I need to explain more with these and those. i have confused them. especially, question 6~8...why they can use these/those.... -0-;;;

Submitted by ruthie ruth on Tue, 20/05/2014 - 14:28

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while pointing at something ( a large single thing) a friend said " I want one of this" it was one thing, but this is not correct? how can I explain that she should have said "I want one of these" or even "I want one of those"?

Hello ruthie ruth,

If we say 'one of' then we are automatically saying that there is more than one available.  Therefore we must say 'these' or 'those'.  If there was only one available then we would not say 'one of' at all; we would simply say 'I want this' or 'I want that'.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by safetysaran on Thu, 15/05/2014 - 07:32

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"Can I speak to Sally?" appears to be wrong because "Can" implies whether one has the physical strength or not to speak.The correct word should be "May".

Hello safetysaran,

We use several modal verbs to form requests in English and it is perfectly acceptable to use 'can' here.  'May' is also correct and so, in more formal situations, is 'might'.

For more information on modal verbs see this page, this page, this page and this page.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Daljit 22 on Wed, 07/05/2014 - 15:34

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wow !! m fully satisfied thanku teachers

Submitted by Roseli Anael Perron on Mon, 14/04/2014 - 23:20

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Hello Teachers, Thank you. I found the exercise above really helpful. I do tend to make those mistakes and miss place the pronounce quite often.Is there anywhere in the site where i can ready or practice this a bit more? Thank you in advance. Kind regards, Roseli Anael Perron

Submitted by HNawar on Mon, 07/04/2014 - 13:25

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Dears, at question number 7 what are ..... men doing on the roof ? The correct answer is Those !! while at the lesson mentioned that : -that and those for things that are not near us not people so how come the correct answer is Those while we use "Those" for things not people ?? could you please explain .. Thanks,

Submitted by HNawar on Mon, 07/04/2014 - 12:59

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Dears, We don’t say These are John and Michael ? BR,

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 07/04/2014 - 15:08

In reply to by HNawar

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Hi HNawar,

While there may be some historical explanation for this, the reason is simply that it is the way people speak in modern standard English.

Regarding your question above about number 7, those can be used to be refer to both people and things. Our explanation above doesn't explain this very clearly, and so we'll fix it as soon as we can. Thanks for pointing this out!

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by menna_mmr on Mon, 31/03/2014 - 08:14

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Dear teacher The question: pass me ( this - that ) dish. I Can't reach it thanks

Hello menna_mmr,

If you can't reach it then you are more likely to sat 'that dish', which shows more distance. Of course, if there is only one dish on the table then you would simply say 'the dish'.  You can see a fuller explanation of when we use 'this' and 'that' in my answer to another question on this page - take a look at the recent answers below this one to find it.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ZahidShaikh on Fri, 28/03/2014 - 17:38

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Hi, I want to rectify something. 1- we have lived in this house for 20 years 2- we are living in this house for 20 years. Does both the sentences means the same ? If not, what is the difference?

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 29/03/2014 - 07:06

In reply to by ZahidShaikh

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Hi ZahidShaikh,

I'm afraid sentence 2 is not correct in standard English. The good news is that the first sentence is correct.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sdgnour2014 on Thu, 20/03/2014 - 17:24

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Hello teacher can I say and that's be right? 1/ This is my friend John and this is my friend Susan. Both of them are my friends. These are my friends, John and Michael, and Susan, three of them are my friends. 2/On the phone which is correct to say: This is John OR it's John.

Hi sdgnour2014,

In 1, the first two sentences are perfect. The third needs a little revision: "These are my friends John, Michael and Susan; the three of them are my friends."

2. The standard way of saying this is "This is John."

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mariam Jame on Mon, 17/02/2014 - 20:09

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Hi! I'm a new in this website and i'm so happy i found it. Thanks a lot for helping us to improve our English. I have to Questions: The first one is: Why we used this not that on the first question? (That chicken tastes really good) The second question is : why did they say tastes ? is it because the chicken will be (It) ? how would i know the diffrent between the S for the plural and like for this example. Cheers!

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 18/02/2014 - 08:09

In reply to by Mariam Jame

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Hi Mariam Jame,

The words 'this' and 'that' are used very much depending on the context and the perception of the speaker.  In general, 'this' is used when we see something as close to us in some way and 'that' is used when something is seem as less close to us.  This may be physical ('this chair' = the one closest to me and 'that chair' is one further away, for example) or it may be a different kind of closeness, such as when an idea is mentioned in a conversation.  Therefore, both 'this' and 'that' are possible in your sentence and why the speaker chooses to say 'that' rather than 'this' is really dependent on the context and the speaker's perception, not on any rule of grammar.

Your second question is easier to answer.  'Tastes' here is a verb, not a noun, and the form is present simple, third person; therefore it ends in an 's'.  You can tell the difference if you can recognise from the sentence whether the word is a verb or a noun.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by maria cookie on Wed, 29/01/2014 - 18:13

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Hi,

I have a question on this subject. Say I am writing about a medical technique/procedure (eg: transplant) and that section and the first word very clearly detail that the only technique being talked about is Transplant.

How many times can I refer to transplant in the text (one or two paragraphs) as "this procedure" or "this technique" instead of writing over and over again the word "transplant"? Is there a limit to it? Or is it just bad form to almost always use the pronoun?

Thanks!

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 29/01/2014 - 21:23

In reply to by maria cookie

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Hi maria cookie,

I'm afraid there's no single rule about this - it's a question of style and, therefore, is very much context-dependent and quite subjective.  The general pattern is to alternative noun and pronoun - use the noun first, then the pronoun twice (for example), then the noun again.  However, all this depends on the particular example - it is not possible to generalise, so without seeing the paragraph itself there is little that I can say about it.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by duongdiu on Wed, 08/01/2014 - 07:23

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Dear teacher

The question:"What are ............... men doing on the roof?"

a. This

b. That

c.These

d.Those.

I choose:"b.That" --> Its wrong answer.

The correct is "d.Those". So, Could you please explain why we choose d. ?

Thanks

Hello duongdiu,

In the sentence we have the word 'men', which is plural.  Therefore 'this' and 'that' are not possible, as they are used with singular nouns.

'These' is generally used with things close by (near) or familiar; 'those' with things further away (far) or less familiar.  The person saying this sentence is probably looking at the roof rather than standing on it (this is an assumption, but is quite likely!), and so will say 'those' rather than 'these'.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by bekicaci on Wed, 25/12/2013 - 19:39

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Hello. I would like to ask a question about these and those. If I say:"What are these/those? (ex.shoes, books). The answer should be: These/those are shoes/books, or They are shoes/ they are books.

Thank you.

Submitted by Safaa S. on Thu, 19/12/2013 - 09:11

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Hi;

With reference to Mr. Peter comments on Christmas Scene on 16 Dec. to Ysaloga, after I have read the comments and I wondered why he has used - those - to refer to the suggestions those he has listed them. But after reading his reply to Leon4090 dated 15 Nov. I realized that we must consider the textual distance when we use ( this / these and that/those ) .

Now the question in same cases when I write email or essay, if I use these instead of those does the examiner consider that is grammatical mistake or it`s only likely to use it.

 

Another thing I want to ask about :

Did I write those comments I has sent previously in good, acceptable way (except the grammatical rules now I work on improve it) and need a bit improvement or need much more one.

Best Regards

Safaa

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 20/12/2013 - 12:55

In reply to by Safaa S.

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Hi Safaa,

Without a specific context, it's difficult to say whether the use of these or those is unusual or not. Is there a specific email or essay that you've written that you'd like to ask about? If so, we could take a quick look at it. I can't say for sure, but I expect that an examiner will consider using these instead of those (or vice versa) more or less serious depending on how much confusion the mistake could cause - again, it really depends on the context.

I'm afraid I'm not sure which of your comments you're asking about. If you have a specific question about one of them, please feel free to copy your comment in a new comment, but please know that we don't generally have time to provide feedback on entire texts; if you have a question about a specific phrase or sentence, that is something we can help you with.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by veeraraghavan on Tue, 17/12/2013 - 01:26

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Hi

Can we say  'this' used in 'this house' is a noun modifier and instead 'this' as a pronoun for two reasons?

In the write-up on Possessive pronouns, we understand my in 'my book' is a noun modifier and mine is the pronoun substituting the adjective phrase. Applying the same rule can we say this house is a noun phrase and this is a pronoun? For example;

Is this your book?

No this book is not mine. (or)   ------  noun phrase

This is not mine.                        ------  pronoun

Secondly, pronoun is defined as a substitute for noun. Then is it necessary to use a noun next to a pronoun?

 

 

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 17/12/2013 - 08:53

In reply to by veeraraghavan

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Hi veeraraghavan,

Your analysis is correct - this is both a specific determiner and also a pronoun, and in the two sentences you write, you have correctly identified its uses. In answer to your second question, since a pronoun takes the place of another noun, it is used independently of the noun it replaces.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nidhinice on Thu, 21/11/2013 - 07:43

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Hi 

I would like to know if "this that" can appear next to each other in a sentence.

e.g.  It will also explain this that there is no conflict between spirituality and science. 

in this sentence is 'this' needed to emphasize or not. if they can appear together, then should there be a comma between the two?

thank you for your advice. 

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 22/11/2013 - 12:04

In reply to by nidhinice

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Hi nidhinice,

That sentence does not look very natural to me, I'm afraid.  We can use 'this' as a reference device, to introduce (and emphasise) an idea which follows it.  It's a rhetorical device common in speeches.  For example:

'This, I say to you: we shall be victorious!'

This kind of forward reference is called 'cataphoric reference'.

Your sentence is a version of this.  However, in English we do not put 'this' and 'that' together in this way as it can be confusing.  To do this, you need to add some punctuation (and, in speaking, an appropriate pause).  For example:

'It will also explain this: that there is no conflict between...'

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by torabkhan on Mon, 18/11/2013 - 07:34

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Hi sir this is Torab Khan i am new to the site it is very useful and i will learn more from this site. but i am not good as much as required in the English language in this regard i want your help how to improve my English in Speaking Reading and Writing. Thanks

Hi Torab Khan,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! You've certainly come to the right place to improve your English, as there are loads of resources here that can help you do just that.

I'd recommend that you first browse our site - there are lots of different areas that could be useful to you, so you should try different areas and see what helps you the most. For example, our Magazine, Stories & Poems and Talk About sections are full of texts that you can read and then comment on; some also have exercises that can help you see how well you've understood the text. Many of our users get hooked on the Elementary Podcasts - although these are primarily meant to be listened to, they all have transcripts that you can read, and most have a lot of exercises to help you check your comprehension and the grammar and vocabulary discussed in them. And whenever there's a grammar point that you're not sure about, check our Grammar pages - you can probably find the answers to your questions there.

Finally, you should comment and ask questions in our comments sections whenever you'd like to - as other users will surely say, you can really learn a lot this way.

Good luck and please let us know how it goes.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Leon4090 on Wed, 13/11/2013 - 12:41

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Dear Sir/Madam, I am extremely poor in using pronouns like this, that , these , those. I understand that we can use "this" when we referring things near to us , but the problem is that I do not know how to use these pronouns in a paragraph. For example , Children who behave badly in classrooms should be handed fines. This behaviour cannot be tolerated as it will make them defiant. They will become good citizen after they get penalised by their teachers. They will also respect their parents so that punishment can yield positive results. In this example - The writer used ' this behaviour ' in the beginning of the second sentence. Is it a correct usage of 'this' and why didn't the writer use 'that' instead of 'this' ? Secondly, after the word teachers , the writer used ' they ' . Now this pronoun is referring teachers or students and Why ? Thirdly , in the last sentence, the writer used ' that penalty' . Why did he use 'that' there instead of ' this' ? I do not know because I am useless in the usage of pronouns and determiners or demonstratives, so please HELP ! HELP! HELP ! I am quite confused about these referents as it is a hectic subject for me . Please help and kindly provide some detail explanation so that English learners like me can learn it . With kind regards, LEON

Hello Leon,

That's a lot of questions!  Let me take them in order:

 

1/ One of the differences between 'this'/'these' and 'that'/'those' is distance - physical distance, psychological distance and textual distance.  In the paragraph you quote, the writer has just mentioned the behaviour; this means the pronoun is close in the text to the original item.  If there were several sentences talking about something else separating the two items then 'that' would be more likely.  For example:

Children who behave badly in classrooms should be handed fines. Of course, this is a controversial policy and many people will disagree with it but it seems clear that a solution must be found to the problem before it is too late. Handing out fines is one possible solution, so the argument goes. Furthermore, another point is made: that that behaviour cannot be tolerated as it will make them defiant.

 

2/ The pronoun 'they' refers to students.  There is no earlier reference to teachers: the reference is children - them - they; the word 'teachers' appears only later, after those pronouns.  In any case, the context makes it clear that the pronoun refers to the students and not the teachers - I think we can assume that teachers are already assumed to be 'good citizens', rather than attempting to 'become' them.

 

3/ This is an example of the distance I referred to above.  If we move the reference closer to the original statement then 'this' would be considered better style:

They will become good citizens after they get penalised by their teachers and so this punishment can yield positive results.

 

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Pete, I am very grateful to you for your assistance. I hope you will continue to motivate ESL learners. You are doing a great job and keep it up as we need erudite teachers like you. Cheers!

Submitted by soha n on Wed, 06/11/2013 - 18:22

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Thanks a lot This website great

Submitted by soha n on Wed, 06/11/2013 - 18:20

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Submitted by sampat on Sat, 02/11/2013 - 17:26

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Hello Learner & Administrator of this site. I want to improve my English language. so I hope. You will Mention your Feedback. These are some verbs. which are not involved in Continuous Tense Is it Right?
Hello sampat, There are some verbs which do not usually appear in continuous forms. These are called 'stative verbs' and you can find information about and an exercise on them here: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/grammar-reference/stative-verbs I hope that clarifies it for you. Best wishes, Peter The LearnEnglish Team