This, these, that and those are demonstrative adjectives or pronouns. We use them to indicate how near or how far a thing is and whether the thing is plural or singular. 

This and these for items that are close

This and these for items that are close

If you can touch something, if it is in your hand or very close to you, then we use “this” for singular things and “these” when you have more than one.

  • Here are some examples:
  • This file is very heavy.
  • This chair is broken.
  • These office supplies are for managers only.
  • These reports are out of date. 

This and these for abstract nouns (that you cannot touch)

This and these for abstract nouns

We also use “this” and “these” to talk about nouns which are not physically near but are close in other ways. Such as information presented in a photo or a list of names on the screen.

  • Some employees have been seen smoking on company premises. This behaviour is not acceptable. 
  • These employees have been sanctioned

That and those for items that are further away

That and those for items that are further away

We use that and those for items which are not close or are further away compared to another item. 

  • The options are all good but that candidate has the best profile
  • Those proposals were not good enough, I threw them away

That and those for distant abstract nouns 

That and those for distant abstract nouns 

The demonstrative adjectives “that” and “those” specify distant abstract nouns such as dates or times or rules and theories.

  • That rule doesn’t apply in Michigan.
  • Those dates don’t work well for my schedule

This these that and those as demonstrative pronouns

This these that and those as demonstrative pronouns

A demonstrative pronoun replaces a noun in a sentence. We use the demonstrative pronoun with a verb or by itself. Some example sentences are:

  • This – My computer is very slow today! This is bad for business. 
  • These – These are very important documents
  • That – I saw you worked on the Phoenix project, that was a difficult task!
  • Those – There are so many designs to choose from, I can only say that I don’t like those.

This these that and those as demonstrative adjectives

This these that and those as demonstrative adjectives

A demonstrative adjective clarifies if a noun is near or far. We use the demonstrative adjective with a noun. For example:

  • This – My computer is very slow today! This problem is serious. 
  • These – These documents are very important.
  • That – I saw you worked on the Phoenix project, that task was difficult!
  • Those – There are so many designs to choose from, those samples are beautiful. 

You can find more information here and grammar resources in our GRAMMAR INDEX.

Elizabeth Drayton

Elizabeth Drayton

Teacher trainer and amateur photographer

This article was written by Elizabeth Drayton, our teacher trainer at Break into English. If you would like to try a class for free, send us an email to info@breakintoenglish.com