Introduction to Demonstratives

Demonstratives are very important in English grammar. They are special kinds of adjectives and pronouns that indicate which entities the speaker is referring to and how far they are in relation to the speaker. In English, there are four demonstratives: “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.” They help to ensure clarity and precision in speech and writing. In this tutorial, we’ll explore the usage, types, and rules of demonstratives.

Types of Demonstratives

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives answer the question “which one?” They must always precede a noun or pronoun and agree in number (singular or plural) with the noun they modify. The demonstrative adjectives are: “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.”

  • This and these are used for things that are close in terms of distance or time.
  • That and those are used for things that are farther away in distance or time.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns replace specific nouns in a sentence, and are also used to point to something. They are the same words as demonstrative adjectives: “this,” “that,” “these,” “those,” but they stand alone.

  • This and these are used for things that are close to the speaker or writer.
  • That and those are used for things that are further away from the speaker or writer.

Rules for Using Demonstratives

Here are some important rules for when and how to use demonstratives.

  • This and these refer to items close to the speaker. Close can mean physically near in space, something happening right now, or a topic currently under discussion.
  • That and those refer to items farther from the speaker. Far can refer to physical distance, something in the past, or a topic not currently under discussion.
  • This and that are used with singular nouns, while these and those are used with plural nouns.

Examples of Demonstrative Adjectives & Pronouns

To help you better understand demonstratives, here are some examples of each type in sentences.

Examples of Demonstrative Adjectives:

  • This book is interesting.
  • That cat is lazy.
  • These apples are delicious.
  • Those shoes are hers.

Examples of Demonstrative Pronouns:

  • This is my book.
  • That is a beautiful painting.
  • Are these yours?
  • Those are hers.

Common Mistakes with Demonstratives

As with any grammar concept, there are some common mistakes people make when using demonstratives. Let’s go over a few:

Mistaking Adjectives for Pronouns

The most common mistake is mixing up demonstrative adjectives and pronouns. Remember, demonstrative adjectives always modify a noun (This book is mine. – Here ‘this’ modifies ‘book’), while demonstrative pronouns replace a noun (This is mine. – Here ‘this’ replaces the noun).

Using the Wrong Demonstrative

Using the incorrect demonstrative (‘this,’ ‘that,’ ‘these,’ ‘those’) can also create confusion. Remember to use ‘this’ and ‘these’ for items close to you, and ‘that’ and ‘those’ for items farther away.


Practice your understanding of demonstratives with these exercises. Fill in the blank with the correct demonstrative adjective or pronoun:

  • _____ car is red.
  • I don’t know if _____ are the right answers.
  • _____ is the best day of my life!
  • Do you know if _____ shoes are on sale?


Demonstratives play a vital role in conveying precise meaning in English. By using ‘this,’ ‘that,’ ‘these,’ and ‘those’ correctly, you can ensure that your audience understands exactly what you mean. Regular practice and paying attention to the rules will help you become adept in using demonstratives.

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