Demonstrative Adjectives

Published on: 18/07/2018 By
Last Modified on: 08/11/2019

There are two very important words that we need to use frequently in English – what are they and why are they so useful? Read on to find out!

What are Demonstrative Adjectives?

The two main demonstrative adjectives in English are this and that. We use these two words to help us indicate which person or thing we are referring to.

For example:

This student is new.

That car over there belongs to the company.

As adjectives, this and that go before a singular noun. For plural nouns we use the plural forms of this and that which are these and those. For example:

These students are new.

I want to buy these two shirts.

Those cars over there belong to the company.

Whose are those documents on the photocopier?

What’s the Difference Between This and That?

When we refer to someone or something near the speaker, we use ‘this’. For example:

This chair next to me is free. You can sit here.

Look at this photo! This man on the left is my Uncle.

On this slide you can see how sales increased last year.

I love this song!

When we refer to someone or something not near the speaker, we use ‘that’. For example:

That gentleman in reception has an appointment at 10:00.

Whose is that bag on my desk?

I’d like that green shirt in the window please.

Can you pass me that pen, please?

The same difference is true for these and those. For example:

These shoes are really comfortable!

Are those glasses on the table yours?

This and That as Pronouns

We can also use ‘this’ and ‘that’ as pronouns, meaning that we can use them without a noun. Generally we only use ‘this’ and ‘that’ as pronouns with things and not people. For example:

What’s this? – It’s my new specialty, rice with mushrooms.

Shall we have a coffee break? – Yes, that’s a great idea!

However, when we introduce someone and identify ourselves on the phone, we can use ‘this’ as a pronoun for people. For example:

Marco, this is Ms Lopez. – Nice to meet you, Ms Lopez.

Hello, this is Ali. Can I speak to Juan please?

So, now you’ve seen how to use demonstrative adjectives, it’s time to practice! Look around the area where you’re sitting now and make some of your own examples for this, that, these and those.



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Mary Milne

Author of this post

Mary Milne has worked for Wall Street English for 20 years. After studying at the University of Bristol and subsequently doing a CELTA course, she began her career in teaching. Over the years she has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in ESL and has worked as an Online Community Manager, and author for Wall Street English International and Pearson, writing informative educational content. She dedicates most of her free time to music, playing in a band and singing in a choir.

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