Demonstrative Pronoun


A pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun.

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Let's look at this sentence:

Tom catches the ball.

In this sentence, "Tom" is a noun. We can replace the noun "Tom" with the personal pronoun "He."

He catches the ball.

Some other common pronouns are he, she, it, them, mine, itself, they, and we.


Demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are one type of pronoun. A demonstrative pronoun is used in place of a noun.

"Demonstrative" means "showing, making something clear."

Demonstrative pronouns point to things.


The demonstrative pronouns are

this

that

these

those



Examples:
boy with toy bear

This
is my bear.

That is the best one.

Do you like these or those?

Can I paint with these?

I want those.

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Rules for demonstrative pronouns



Near the speaker Farther away from the speaker
Singular this that
Plural these those

  • "This" and "that" are singular (one).

  • "These" and "those" are plural (more than one).


  • Use "this" and "these" to talk about things that are near in space or in time.
    boy with flower

    This is for you!

  • Use "that" and "those" to talk about things that are farther away in space or time.
    man with binoculars

    That went in the hole.


Using demonstrative pronouns in sentences

A demonstrative pronoun can be the subject, direct object, indirect object, or object of the preposition in a sentence.

Let's look at example sentences for each type.


A) Examples as a subject:
  • That was a special day.

    ("That" is the subject of the sentence.)

  • This belongs to Billy.

    ("This" is the subject of the sentence.)

  • Those are ready to eat.

    ("Those" is the subject of the sentence.)

  • These taste like bananas and cherries.

    ("These" is the subject of the sentence.)
candy

B) Examples as a direct object:
  • She made that.

    ("That" is the direct object of the verb "made.")

  • Jill wants this.

    ("This" is the direct object of the verb "wants.")

  • I'll buy those.

    ("Those" is the direct object of the verb "buy.")

  • Do you like these?

    ("These" is the direct object of the verb "like.")
man holding neckties


C) Examples as an indirect object:

  • Ron has four cats. The two little ones were very dirty. He gave these a bath.

    ("Those" is the indirect object of the verb "gave.")

  • We are working on two projects this week. One must be finished by Friday. Give that your closest attention.

    ("That" is the indirect object of the verb "give.")

  • Jenny applied to four universities. Three of the universities accepted her. She sent those letters of appreciation.

    ("Those" is the indirect object of the verb "sent.")

  • Our dog had six puppies! We want to keep two of them, but not the others. We need to find those a nice home with good owners.

    ("Those" is the indirect object of the verb "find.")
gifts

D) Examples as an object of the preposition:

  • I was looking at that.

    ("That" is the object of the preposition "at.")

  • She is thinking about these.

    ("These" is the object of the preposition "about.")

  • Be very careful with those.

    ("Those" is the object of the preposition "with.")

  • Doesn't your hat go with this?

    ("This" is the object of the preposition "with.")

A man's suit

Use "this" and "these" to talk about things that are near in space or in time


This => singular

Examples:
  • This smells good. (The object is near the speaker.)

  • Did you watch this? (The object is near the speaker.)

  • This is fun! (It is happening now.)

  • I like to play with this! (The object is near the speaker.)

  • This has been a busy week. (The week is happening now.)

These => plural

Examples:
  • These are the prettiest flowers. (The flowers are near the speaker.)

  • Can I look at these? (The objects are near the speaker.)

  • These are the best times of your life. (They are happening now.)

  • These are the books I have read. (The books are near the speaker.)

  • These are difficult times. (They are happening now.)
sad boy


Use "that" and "those" to talk about things that are farther away in space or time


That => singular

Examples:
  • That is a beautiful ring. (The ring is not near the speaker.)

  • Did you see that? (The object is farther away from the speaker.)

  • That was a good movie. (The speaker already watched the movie.)

  • I want to buy that. (The object is farther away from the speaker.)

  • That was the worst day of my life. (It happened in the past.)


Those => plural

Examples:
  • Those are my brothers. (The speaker's brothers are not physically near the speaker.)

  • Can we have some of those? (The objects are not near the speaker.)

  • Those were fun times! (The times happened in the past.)

  • Those are your gifts. (The gifts are farther away from the speaker.)

  • Those were the best days of my life! (They happened in the past.)
happy woman


Tips for using demonstrative pronouns

A) Use demonstrative pronouns after the object has already been identified


When writing, we usually don't use demonstrative pronouns (or other pronouns) until the object has been identified in a previous sentence or paragraph.

If you write:

Those are my favorite.

The reader will ask, "What are "those"? What things are your favorite?"

You must first identify the noun you are talking about.

I like my mother's chocolate muffins. My mother makes chocolate muffins with an old recipe from my grandmother. She uses real cocoa in her recipe. Those are my favorite!

muffins



man pointing with finger

When you are speaking to someone, you can physically point to the object you are speaking about.

This is mine.

That is yours.

These are his.

Those are hers.




B) Sometimes, two demonstrative pronouns are used in the same sentence


If you are trying to decide between two different things, you might say:

I don't know if I want this or that.

This is nice, but that is cheaper.

These look beautiful, but those smell better.

If you are talking about two different things, you might say:

I was going to buy those, but I bought these instead.

I baked this, and she baked that.


desserts


Demonstrative adjectives

Do not confuse demonstrative pronouns with demonstrative adjectives.

Although demonstrative adjectives are the same words (this, that, these, those), they are used in a different way.

A demonstrative pronoun takes the place of another noun. Demonstrative pronouns are the subject or object of a sentence.
  • That is a big house.
  • This is a friendly dog.
  • Those are funny!
  • These are my favorite colors.

A demonstrative adjective modifies a noun. Demonstrative adjectives must be used with nouns.
  • That house is big.
  • This dog is friendly.
  • Those jokes are funny!
  • These colors are my favorite.

Demonstrative pronoun => takes the place of a noun

Demonstrative adjective => modifies a noun



This was an overview of the demonstrative pronoun. Now that you understand, it is time to practice! Get our ESL Books.

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