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Demonstratives - This, that, these, those


What are demonstratives?

Demonstratives are words that show which person or thing is being referred to. In the sentence:

'This is my brother',

'this' is a demonstrative

The demonstratives in English are this, that, these, and those

Demonstrative pronouns vs demonstrative adjectives

A distinction must be made between demonstrative adjectives (or demonstrative determiners) and demonstrative pronouns (or independent demonstratives).

A demonstrative adjective modifies a noun:

This apple is good. I like those houses. (This modifies 'apple' and those modifies 'houses')

A demonstrative pronoun stands on its own, replacing rather than modifying a noun:

This is good. I like those. (This and those don't modify any nouns they stand alone and replace other nouns)

Use of demonstratives

Demonstratives differ according to:

  • distance: near or far,
  • or number: singular or plural.

Here are the main distinctions:

  • This modifies or refers to singular nouns that are near to the speaker.
  • That modifies or refers to singular nouns that are far from the speaker.
  • These modifies or refers to plural nouns that are near to the speaker.
  • Those modifies or refers to plural nouns that are far from the speaker.
Demonstratives Singular Plural Near Far
This
true
-
true
-
That
true
-
-
true
These
-
true
true
-
Those
-
true
-
true

Exercise on demonstratives.

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