Demonstratives for intermediate learners

Demonstratives express distance in space and time. In this lesson, we will discover the rules, types, uses, and more in detail.

"Demonstratives" in the English Grammar

What Are Demonstratives?

Demonstratives are words used to indicate or point to specific people, objects, or locations in relation to the speaker or the listener. Demonstratives typically change in form depending on their distance from the speaker or the listener.

Demonstratives: Types

English has four demonstratives. Take a look at the table below:

Near Far
Singular This That
Plural These Those

When we want to talk about something or someone close to another thing/person, we use 'this' and 'these'. However, note that 'this' is used for singular nouns, while 'these' is only used for plural nouns. Take a look at the following examples:

This bag is not mine.

As you can see, the sentence is indicating one bag.

These books are torn to pieces.

Here, we are talking about two or more books.

When we want to talk about items/people that are far from us, we use 'that' and 'those'. Please note that 'that' is used for one object/person whereas 'those' is used for plural nouns. Check out the following examples:

That girl looks like my sister.

Here, the sentence is pointing to one person.

Those tables are broken.

As you can see, we are referring to multiple tables here.

Tip!

Demonstratives can also refer to time. They differ based on how near or remote the time we are talking about is. Look at the following examples:

I don't seem to be able to concentrate these days.

Here, the sentence is talking about recent days.

We had more time those days.

Here, the sentence is talking about a time long passed.

Demonstratives: Functions

These demonstratives can perform different grammatical functions. Take a look at the following list:

Demonstrative Pronouns

These demonstratives can act as pronouns in sentences. Check out the following examples:

These are yours, aren't they?

That looks terrible on you.

Demonstrative Determines

When we use the demonstratives before nouns or adjectives, they act as demonstrative determiners. Take a look at the following examples:

These shoes will not be suitable for tonight.

Those happy days are long gone, dad.

Demonstrative Adverbs

When we want to emphasize the location of someone or something in relation to another, we use demonstrative adverbs which are 'here' and 'there'. 'Here' is used to refer to something/someone close whereas 'there' is used to refer to someone or something far from us. Take a look at the following examples:

Put the hat here, please.

Can't you see it's over there?

Tip!

We also have demonstrative adverbs to refer to time. 'Now' is used to refer to the present moment whereas 'then' is used to indicate a time in the past. Check out the following examples:

I said come here now.

Back then, people were much at peace with themselves.

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