What are demonstrative pronouns? (this, that, those…)

Demonstrative pronouns in English (lesson with examples)


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WHAT ARE THE DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS IN ENGLISH?

A demonstrative pronoun is used to replace a particular thing (singular or plural), which has already been mentioned before, or which can be designated by the context.

  • this / that 
  • these / those 

these is the plural of this, those is the plural of that:

  • this dog / these dogs
  • that cat / those cats

There is no gender difference:

  • this boy and this girl
  • those men and those women

UTILISATION

This, that, these and those can be used as determinants or pronouns:

  • Take this pen
  • Take this.
  • Give me that book.
  • Give me that.

What is the difference between THIS and THAT?

We choose between this and that to show the degree of distance from the person speaking (a little like here and there in French). As a general rule, this/these marks proximity to the enunciator, that/those marks distance:

THE DISTANCE IN SPACE

THIS or THESE is used to talk about a person, thing or place that is close to the person speaking:

  • This is my brother
  • These are my shoes.
  • Is this your pen?

THAT or THOSE is used to talk about a person, thing or place that is further away from the person speaking:

  • I can see that from here.
  • That man over there is my boss.
  • Those men are detectives.

DISTANCE IN TIME

THIS refers to the future or the present, THAT to the past (to talk about something that is not present):

  • On that day, she was really tired, but she’s feeling better this week.
  • That movie we watched last night was awesome.

EMOTIONAL DISTANCE

  • That dog is dangerous!
  • I hate this tee-shirt, but I love those shoes!

OTHER USES

1 – THIS can be used to announce something, and THAT to refer to the past:

  • This is what she told me: “You can do it!”
  • “You can do it!”: that‘s what she told me.

2 – To avoid a repetition: we can forward this/that by one, and these/those by ones :

  • Which photo do you prefer? This one or that one? 
  • Which fruits can you eat ? These ones or those ones?

3 – To compare:

  • I don’t like those trousers. These are a bit better.
  • This tee-shirt is nice; that one is ugly.

4 – This, these, that, that, those can be pronouns and replace a name or a sentence:

  • I think this is awesome!  (This remplace quelque chose de connu.)

5 – To contact us by phone:

  • Hello, this is Jane speaking. Who is this?

6 – This and these can refer to situations that are happening:

  • Listen to this song. (NOT: Listen to that song.)

7 – That and those can refer to experiences that have just ended:

  • Who said that?
  • Who did that?

8 – We use THAT in expressions like that’s it and that’s that

  • That’s it, I’m going home.
  • I broke up with Claire, and that’s that.

9 – Other utilisations:

  • The best movie of the festival was that made by Spielberg.
  • We are organizing a trip to London. Those interested should speak with Sam.

 

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