Demonstrative pronouns masterclass

This lesson helps us understand what a demonstrative pronoun is, how it is used, and all the important things about it.

What is a demonstrative pronoun in English?

A demonstrative pronoun refers to a noun in terms of its number (singular or plural) and its vicinity (how close it is) to the speaker.

Using a demonstrative pronoun is like pointing out a noun that is close to or far away from the speaker. It points to a noun in terms of either space or time. 

There are 4 demonstrative pronouns in English:

  • This
  • That
  • These
  • Those
demonstrative pronoun infographic
Demonstrative pronounsVicinity (time or space)Number (singular/plural)Examples
Thisclose to the speakersingular
1. This is my house. (pointing out something in terms of space )

2. This is a wonderful time we are living in. (pointing out time)
Thatfar away from the speakersingular
1. That was a perfect evening. (time reference)

2. That is where I used to live. (space reference)
Theseclose to the speakerplural
1. These are my friends. (space)

2. I love these, but the doctor has advised me to avoid cheese-based items. (space)
Thosefar away from the speakerplural
1. Those were the days when we could eat absolutely anything and wouldn’t get fat. (time)

2. Those are not my friends. (space)

This is the shop I was talking about the other day.

The speaker is referring to a place (shop) that is close to them. The demonstrative pronoun ‘this‘ refers to a noun in terms of space.

That was the most romantic day of my life. I still remember it.

In this example, the pronoun ‘that‘ refers to a noun (day) in terms of time. Notice that the time it refers to is far away from the time the sentence was delivered.


  • I love eating this.
  • Have you seen this before?
  • This is my mother’s favorite restaurant.
  • Try this. It will look on you.
  • Look at this.
  • This is not the right time to make fun of him. He just lost his job.


  • What is that?
  • That is about a kilometer away.
  • That’s the place I used to work at. (that’s = that is)
  • Can you see that without your spectacles on?
  • We can’t afford that. It looks too expensive.
  • That is not my house.

Steve: I am elated to tell you that we are opening a car showroom in the city soon.
Conor: Wow, that is great!

The demonstrative pronoun ‘that, here, refers to the information that Steve gave to Conor.

NOTE: Sometimes, we refer to an object far away in terms of time, meaning something happened in the past, and we refer to it using the demonstrative pronoun ‘that‘ as it’s singular.


  • What was that for? I think that was uncalled for. (refers to something someone did a moment ago)
  • That was an epic match.
  • That was one of the best parties he had ever thrown.
  • That was the worst pizza I had ever had.


  • These are imported from Japan.
  • I love these. They are beautiful.
  • I think these are the types of things that change one’s life.
  • These are the kind of people that you need around you.
  • I have never seen these before.
  • These are my favorite pants.


  • Those are the people that live in my society.
  • Have you driven any of those?
  • Those are DDA’s flats.
  • Those were the best days of our life.

Important points to note

A) We often use ‘that‘ or ‘this‘, usually ‘that‘, to refer to what someone just said to us.

Tina: You left the party because Tarang hurt your ego calling you a sellout.
Me: That’s not true at all. I had something important to do. And that’s why I left the party without telling anyone.

Kelvin: You know what happened at the meeting? Sean called the boss a liar in front of everyone and exposed his hypocrisy.
Isreal: That is just unbelievable.

Penny: I know you are getting married next month, and you don’t want us there.
Arpit: That is so not true. I was about to tell you that.

B) When demonstratives (this, that, these, and those) are followed by a noun, they function as an adjective called a demonstrative adjective.
  • This changed my life. (pronoun)
  • This book changed my life. (adjective)
  • Look at that. (pronoun)
  • Look at that man. (adjective)
  • These cost more than my house. (pronoun)
  • These watches cost more than my house. (adjective)
  • Those are not mine. (pronoun)
  • Those plants are not mine. (adjective)

Notice when these words function as a pronoun, they stand alone, but when take a noun after them when they function as an adjective.

C) Sometimes, the demonstrative pronoun ‘this‘ is used to refer to a situation. It does not refer to something concrete or specific in the sentence.

This is a great opportunity to show our skill set.

Someone or a group of people have gotten a chance to show their skill set at a company or a platform. But it is not clear what exactly the demonstrative pronoun ‘this’ refers to.

  • This is what I was talking about.
  • This does not change anything. I still am mad at you.
  • This can be dangerous.

In the last two sentences, the demonstrative pronoun ‘this‘ refers to a previous sentence or a situation. We can understand it by giving it a proper context.

Max: I know you are upset with me. But you need me at this moment.
Tom: I am good on my own. I will get a job on my own.
Max: I have a friend in a great MNC. Let me talk to you.
Tom: Okay, but this does not change anything. I still am mad at you.

Now, we know what the demonstrative pronoun ‘this’ refers to. It refers to Max helping Tom with talking to a friend working in a good MNC. It still does not refer to a specific object though. It does not always do that.

D) The word ‘that‘ does not always function as a demonstrative pronoun. It can also function as a relative pronoun, subordinating conjunction, or adverb in a sentence.

Show me a suit that is not too expensive.

Here, the word ‘that‘ is not a demonstrative pronoun. It is a relative pronoun referring to the noun ‘suit‘ and working as the subject of the relative clause (that is not too expensive). The relative clause works as an adjective, modifying the noun ‘suit’.

I know that that is your house.

In this example, the first ‘that‘ is a subordinating conjunction that the noun clause (that that is your house) starts with, and the second ‘that‘ is a demonstrative pronoun, working as the subject of the noun clause.

We didn’t know that he was that good. He danced like a professional dancer at the party.

The first ‘that‘ is a subordinating conjunction that the noun clause (that he was that good) starts with. The second one works as an adverb, sitting before the adjective ‘good’ and modifying it.


How do you identify demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative adjectives?

A demonstrative pronoun stands alone, and a demonstrative adjective takes a noun after it and modifies it.
1. This is my car. (pronoun)
2. I love this car. (adjective)

What are the rules for demonstrative pronouns?

Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, and those), like any other types of pronouns, refer to a noun. The pronouns this and that are considered singular pronouns, and these and those are considered plural. The pronouns this and these refer to objects near the speaker in terms of time or space, and the pronouns that and those refer to objects far away from the speaker in terms of time or space.

What is the use of demonstrative pronouns and examples?

Demonstrative pronouns point to an object in terms of space or time. It refers to an object (singular or plural) that is close to or far away from the speaker.
1. I can’t have this. 2. That is my dog Brownie. 3. These are beautiful. 4. Those ae very old buildings.

How do you identify a demonstrative pronoun?

To identify a demonstrative pronoun, look for the places a noun sits at. Like a noun, it can be the subject, the object of a verb, the object of a preposition, the subject complement, and the object complement. If the words (this, that, these, those) come at these places, they function as demonstrative pronouns.

What are demonstrative pronouns?

Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, and those) are words that refer to a noun in terms of its number (singular or plural) or how far it is from the speaker. 1. This is my friend. (singular, close) 2. I love that. (singular, far away) 3. These are my cats. (plural, close) 4. Those are very old. (plural, far away)

What are the basic 4 demonstrative pronouns?

The 4 demonstrative pronouns in English are this, that, these, and those. The pronouns ‘this‘ and ‘that‘ refer to singular nouns, and ‘these‘ and ‘those‘ refer to plural nouns. The pronouns ‘this’ and ‘these’ refer to nouns that are close to the speaker, and the pronouns ‘that‘, and ‘those‘ refer to nouns that are far away from the speaker in terms of number and space/time.

Now, we know what demonstrative pronouns are and everything about them. Feel free to share your question, doubt, or feedback in the comment section, and also, share the post with the people that need it.

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Ashish found his first love—the English language—a few years back. Since then, he has been immersed in the language, breaking down the language and teaching it to passionate English learners. He has a flair for listening to the English language (podcasts, sitcoms, stories), observing the nuances, and making it easy for English learners. He is known for breaking down complex English topics and making them easy to be understood.

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