Lesson 3.6 This, That, These, and Those

3.6.1  This, that, these, and those are members of a small class of words called demonstratives. They are function words, rather than content words, with a grammatical function. We use them to indicate the distance – in space or time – between the speaker/writer and the noun. For example:

This is my pen. | this one here

That is her pen. | that one over there

3.6.2  This and that are used with singular and uncountable nouns, while these and those are used with plural nouns.

The word ‘that’ can be used in a contraction, e.g. that is = that’s while the other three words cannot be contracted: this’s / these’re / those’re are all too difficult to pronounce.

3.6.3  This and these indicate that the noun is near in space or time, while that and those indicate that the noun is not near in space or time. For example:

This is my pen and that is her pen.
my pen is nearer to me than her pen

These are my books and those are her books.
my books are nearer to me than her books.

This and these indicate possession – that you have something – while that and those indicate that you do not have something, for example:

‘Can I borrow those marker pens, please?’ ‘Yes, when I’ve finished using them.’

That’s my balloon flying in the sky! you don’t have it – it’s gone

We say ‘not near’ rather than ‘far’ (as the opposite of near) because the ‘that/those’ noun doesn’t have to be far. It just has to be farther than the ‘this/these’ noun.

3.6.4  If the time is past or future – i.e. not now – we tend to use that and those:

That was a great holiday. | the holiday is finished
That will be a great holiday. | the holiday is in the future, not now

If we say: ‘This was a great holiday’, when referring to the past, it is incorrect, because the holiday is not present. Similarly, if we say ‘This will be a great holiday’ it is incorrect, for the same reason.

3.6.5  This, that, these, and those can be determiners or pronouns:

We use a determiner before a noun and it gives some information about that noun. Articles – the, a, and an – are also determiners (see Unit 3.1). We know that ‘the’ indicates a specific noun, but ‘this’ (or the others) indicate a more specific noun. If somebody asked, ‘Which book do you want?’ we could answer ‘The book on the table’, but saying ‘This book’ – and pointing – would be much clearer. Also we don’t need to add extra information about the place – ‘on the table’ as we would if we used only ‘the’.

3.6.6  We know whether a demonstrative is a determiner or pronoun by its position in the sentence. If it is before a noun or noun phrase (e.g. this book, or this wonderful book), it is a determiner. If it is not before a noun – let’s say it is before a verb (e.g. this is a wonderful book) – then it is a pronoun.

Pronoun means ‘instead of a noun’. In Latin the prefix ‘pro’ means ‘in place of’ or ‘in exchange for’. A pronoun replaces an unnecessary noun and makes the sentence tidier:

Not: ‘This bag is a heavy bag.’ …but: ‘This is a heavy bag.’

3.6.7  We can add ‘one’ (for singular nouns) or ‘ones’ (for plural nouns) to the demonstrative pronoun if, for example, you are choosing something. It makes the sentence more emphatic and your choice more specific:

“I want this.”
“Which one?”
This one!”

“Do you like these trousers?”
“Which ones?”
These ones!”

However, ‘these ones’ and ‘those ones’ are not commonly used in standard English. We prefer to say: ‘these’ or ‘those’.

3.6.8  Although this, that, these, and those are function words, they are often pronounced with stress in spoken English. This is because of their function – to emphasise which one – and their position in a clause, which is often at the end for demonstrative pronouns. If a function word comes at the end of a clause, it is usually stressed.

Yes, I agree with that! | ‘that’ is pronounced  That (strong form)

In fact, ‘these’ and ‘those’ do not even have weak forms. They are pronounced Theez and Theuz in every context. Demonstrative determiners ‘this’ and ‘that’ can be unstressed:

That was a nice meal. | th_ w s Nai Smiyl.

Each has a weak form with a shwa sound:

Students may make two common errors when pronouncing demonstratives :

  • this and these both pronounced the same: theez
  • failure to learn to pronounce the voiced th sound, meaning the pronunciation is more like: Dis, Dat, Deez, Deuz, or Zis, Zat, Zeez, Zeuz, rather than: This, That, Theez, Theuz

3.6.9  Common functions of this, that, these, and those:

  • to specify a noun: I want this one.
  • to compare two things: I like this chair, but not that one.
  • to introduce somebody: This is my brother, Jack.
  • to introduce yourself on the phone: Hi, this is Jane.
  • to refer back to something: ‘I’m going to be on time.’ ‘That’s good.’

before time words and phrases This morning, this month, this evening, etc.

This week / month / year, etc. (unfinished time) contrasts with last week / month / year, etc. (finished time) and next week / month / year, etc. (future).

3.6.10  Demonstratives connect with other pronouns in the following way:

If singular (thing): this / that use: it / its / itself

If plural (thing/people): these / those use: they / them / their / theirs /

For example:

  • This book is great, isn’t it.
  • That cat is washing itself.
  • These books are interesting, aren’t they?
  • Those boys are eating their lunch. etc.

Note: if the subject is singular and male or female, we use he / she etc.

3.6.11  Remember, ‘that’ as a demonstrative determiner or pronoun is different to ‘that’ as a relative pronoun in relative clauses, e.g. ‘I enjoyed the book that you gave me.’ It looks and sounds the same, but has a different use.


Ex. 3.6.1 Writing  Some of the sentences are incorrect. Write them correctly:

1. This book is good. ___________________________________
2. Those flowers were beautiful. ___________________________________
3. This books is good. ___________________________________
4. These reports is interesting. ___________________________________
5. This books are good. ___________________________________
6. Those flower was beautiful. ___________________________________
7. These reports are interesting. ___________________________________
8. That meal were lovely. ___________________________________
9. This book are good. ___________________________________
10. These report are interesting. ___________________________________
11. That meals was lovely. ___________________________________
12. These report is interesting. ___________________________________
13. That meal was lovely. ___________________________________
14. Those flower were beautiful. ___________________________________
15. That meals were lovely. ___________________________________
16. Those flowers was beautiful. ___________________________________

Ex. 3.6.2 Writing  Write 4 sentences with this, that, these, those as a determiner:

1. ________________________________________________________________
2. ________________________________________________________________
3. ________________________________________________________________
4. ________________________________________________________________

Ex. 3.6.3 Writing  Write 4 sentences with this, that, these, those as a pronoun:

1. ________________________________________________________________
2. ________________________________________________________________
3. ________________________________________________________________
4. ________________________________________________________________

Ex. 3.6.4 Writing  Write 4 sentences using this, that, these, those to compare two things:

Ex. This is my pencil and that is her pencil.

1. ________________________________________________________________
2. ________________________________________________________________
3. ________________________________________________________________
4. ________________________________________________________________

Ex. 3.6.5 Writing  Correct each sentence using a demonstrative pronoun:

1. This book is a good book. ___________________________________
2. Those seats are empty seats. ___________________________________
3. That film was an enjoyable film. ___________________________________
4. These cars are fast cars. ___________________________________
5. That game was an amazing game. ___________________________________
6. This meal is a delicous meal. ___________________________________

Ex. 3.6.6 Reading  a) Complete each sentence with this, that, these, or those. b) Write D for determiner and P for pronoun. c) Discuss with a partner: which words in each sentence helped you to find the answer?

1. Look at ____________ beautiful mountains.
2. I’m getting off because ____________ is my stop.
3. I’ll use ____________ laptop and you use ____________ one over there.
4. Who was ____________ on the phone? My cousin Alan.
5. ____________ meeting last night was a waste of time.
6. I need to borrow ____________ book, but ____________ librarian said I couldn’t.
7. ____________ are my favourite plants. Yes, they are lovely. I don’t like ____________ over there by the gate.
8. Hi Paul, ____________ is Brian. Is ____________ a good time to talk?
9. Who are you meeting ____________ morning?
10. ‘Please take another cake.’ ‘Is ___________ the last one?’ ‘Yes, but you can have it.’
11. Mmm, ____________ cakes look delicous. I can’t wait to try one!
12. Do you remember the 1980s? Yes, ____________ were the days!
13. ____________ is going to be the best party ever!
14. Mmm, ____________ cakes are delicious. Please have another one!
15. ____________ is Joe who works in the accounts department.
16. I prefer ____________ trousers to ____________ in the other shop.
17. What have you been doing ____________ week?
18. OK, stop. ____________’s enough petrol! It’s full.
19. I think I’ll go to bed early tonight. Yes, ____________’s a good idea.
20. ‘I really hate Clive.’ ‘____________ was a nasty thing to say, Jo.’

Ex. 3.6.7 Reading  a) Complete each sentence with this, that, these, or those. b) Write D for determiner and P for pronoun. c) Discuss with a partner: which words in each sentence helped you to find the answer?

1. ____________ classes began two months ago.
2. ‘Look! ____________’s my favourite actor!’ ‘Where?’ ‘Over there.’
3. ____________ is a good concert, isn’t it?
4. Did you go to Sally’s flat yesterday? No, but I’m going ____________ morning.
5. ‘My grandma gave me ____________ earrings.’ ‘They’re beautiful. They really suit you.’
6. Look at ____________ coin I found.
7. ‘____________ is a picture of my classmates.’ ‘They look nice.’
8. ____________ kids are playing too close to the road. Go and tell them.
9. Did you watch ____________ tv programme I told you about?
10. They had to sell their car. Yes, ____________ was a shame.
11. I wish ____________ bus would start moving. I’m going to be late.
12. ____________’s my house on TV!
13. Look at ____________ scar on my hand.
14. ____________ class was so boring.
15. ____________ guinea pigs are so cute. They’re happy for me to stroke them.
16. Hi Mike. How are you? ____________ are my friends Millie and Liam.
17. ____________ are my horses in the video.
18. Look at ____________ man over there.
19. ‘____________ are the last two pancakes.’ ‘Thanks, dad.’
20. ____________ classes begin next week.

Ex. 3.6.8 Reading  a) Complete each sentence with this, that, these, or those. b) Write D for determiner and P for pronoun. c) Discuss with a partner: which words in each sentence helped you to find the answer?

1. Were you alright during ____________ storm last night?
2. ____________ jacuzzi is so relaxing!
3. What are ____________ kids doing over by ____________ old oak tree?
4. I don’t like ____________ very hot weather we are having at the moment.
5. ‘Who’s ____________? ‘____________ is my cousin John.’
6. ____________ jacuzzi was so relaxing.
7. ____________ new trams are so cool. I can’t feel ____________ one moving.
8. Shall we park in ____________ space or the one over there?
9. ‘Have you finished exercise five?’ ‘No, I didn’t have time for ____________ one.’
10. ‘Take ____________ bags upstairs please.’ ‘Which ones.’ ‘The ones over there.’
11. ‘Our date went really well, mum.’ ‘____________’s nice dear.’
12. ____________ is what I’ve written so far.
13. ____________’s a nice guitar you are holding.
14. ____________ bag is too heavy. I’m going to put it down.
15. ‘Are you using ____________ spoon over there?’ ‘No, I’ve got ____________ one.’
16. Here you are – put ____________ bags in the boot, please.
17. ____________ shoes are so uncomfortable. I can’t wait to take them off.
18. ____________ who dislike classical music will not enjoy the concert.
19. ____________ are my shoes on top of the cupboard.
20. ____________ pullovers belong to Jenny and the other ones are mine.

Ex. 3.6.9 Reading  a) Complete each sentence with this, that, these, or those. b) Write D for determiner and P for pronoun. c) Discuss with a partner: which words in each sentence helped you to find the answer?

1. ____________ is a wonderful meal! I hope it never ends!
2. ____________ gardens were so beautiful. I’m so glad I went on __________ day trip.
3. ‘____________ is a rare stamp.’ ‘What about ____________ one over there?’ ‘Yes, ____________ one is rare too.’
4. ‘Look – it says ____________ bridge is closed.’ ‘How can you read it from here?’
5. __________ pages contain gap-fill exercises, while the next page is a writing activity.
6. ‘____________ is my dad.’ ‘It’s nice to meet you, Carla.’
7. ‘Can I borrow _________ marker pens, please?’ ‘Yes, when I’ve finished using them.’
8. ‘Let’s meet at 9.30am tomorrow.’ ‘OK, ____________’ll be great.’
9. ____________ was a wonderful meal! I was hoping it would never end!
10. ‘Which milk do you want in your coffee.’ ‘____________ one. Here you are.’
11. ____________ bridge was closed, so we had to turn round.
12. __________ stones have been here for thousands of years. Please don’t touch them!
13. ____________’s my balloon flying in the sky!
14. I’m going to see my solicitor ____________ afternoon.
15. ‘I forgot to set my alarm and now I’m late.’ ‘____________ was careless, wasn’t it?’
16. Hey! Who is responsible for ________ mess? ________ kids, or ________ outside?
17. Look! ___________ students have got blue hair! Don’t laugh – they might come over!
18. ____________ suitcase was too heavy.
19. ____________ trams were so uncomfortable. I won’t use them again.
20. ____________ gardens are so beautiful. I’m so glad I came on __________ day trip.

Ex. 3.6.10 Writing  Write 20 sentences for your teacher to mark. In each sentence you should use a demonstrative incorrectly. Write WHY it is incorrect and the correction, for example:

Ex. That schools is closed. | ‘That’ + ‘schools’ do not match, because ‘that’ is used with singular nouns and ‘schools’ is plural. Correction: That school is closed.

1. __________________________________________________________________________
2. __________________________________________________________________________
3. __________________________________________________________________________
4. __________________________________________________________________________
5. __________________________________________________________________________
6. __________________________________________________________________________
7. __________________________________________________________________________
8. __________________________________________________________________________
9. __________________________________________________________________________
10. __________________________________________________________________________
11. __________________________________________________________________________
12. __________________________________________________________________________
13. __________________________________________________________________________
14. __________________________________________________________________________
15. __________________________________________________________________________
16. __________________________________________________________________________
17. __________________________________________________________________________
18. __________________________________________________________________________
19. __________________________________________________________________________
20. __________________________________________________________________________