Grammar This/That/These/Those: Demonstrative Adjectives and Pronouns |
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

This/That/These/Those: Demonstrative Adjectives and Pronouns

The demonstrative adjectives this/that/these/those, which may also be pronouns, tell us where an object is located and how many objects there are.

This and that are used to point to one object. This points to something nearby, while that points to something “over there.”
Examples: This dog is mine.
This is mine.
That dog is hers.
That is hers.
These and those refer to more than one object. These points to things nearby, while those points to things “over there.”
Examples: These babies have been smiling for a while.
These are mine.
Those babies in the nursery have been crying for hours.
Those are yours.

If the article or the existing discussions do not address a thought or question you have on the subject, please use the "Comment" box at the bottom of this page.

55 responses to “This/That/These/Those: Demonstrative Adjectives and Pronouns”

  1. Al says:

    Indefinite articles are used before a singular countable noun.


    Is it possible to use Indefinite articles (a,an) before an adjective with Plural or Uncountable noun ?

    • An indefinite article would not be used with either a plural countable or uncountable noun, even if an adjective were in front of the nouns. However, an indefinite article can be used before a singular uncountable noun, e.g., a checkered history but more often takes the form a ________ of __________, such as, a piece of music.

  2. rose says:

    do this and that need a noun after them all the time? even when refering to an object in the sentence before? ie;

    • It is possible to have a grammatically correct sentence in which this or that does not have a noun after it if the noun is implied. Examples:

      Do you expect me to clean the floor with this?
      I am not sure I can bake a cake in that.

  3. dolly jha says:

    Demonstrative Adjectives:I found them well explained
    However I would like to know the difference between demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns.

    • Demonstrative adjectives always describe a noun. Demonstrative pronouns can stand alone. Examples of demonstrative adjectives:

      That dog is mean.
      This restaurant is good.
      These shoes are the most comfortable.
      Those cups are dirty.

      Examples of demonstrative pronouns:

      That was really funny.
      This is way too expensive.
      These are just perfect!
      I want a pair of those.

  4. Pamela Cohen says:

    Trying to work out, in Shelley’s poem, Ozymandius

    the hand ‘that mock’d’…’ the heart that fed’

    grammatical function of ‘that’

    comes before a verb and after a noun each time.Adverb? Pronoun?

  5. Julaina Kleist says:

    If someone writes, I believe this. Is the usage correct? It seems to me this is used as a demonstrative adjective and would need a noun after it?

    • The word this is used as a pronoun in your sentence, however, the sentence is slightly unclear as written. It could be rewritten the following ways:
      If someone writes, I believe it to be true.
      If someone puts it in writing, I believe it to be true.
      If it is in writing, I believe it.

  6. Pond says:

    I wonder if it is possible that the demonstrative adjectives can be followed by other adjectives? For instance, I think I used to hear people saying ‘The homework is not THAT hard.’ If so, is it grammatically correct or just used in colloquial speech, and what about its meaning?

  7. Millian says:

    What are the different types of pronouns except this, that, those, these

    • According to the Chicago Manual of Style, there are six classes of pronouns:
      personal: I, you, he, she, it, we, and they
      demonstrative: that, this
      interrogative: what, which, and who
      relative: that, what, which, and who
      indefinite: for example, another, any, each, either, and none
      adjective: for example, any, each, that, this, what, and which

  8. Salma says:

    In the sentence
    Those who do….
    Those is what?

  9. Carrie Wihbey says:

    Wondering how this is acting in the following sentence:

    We waited for this child’s arrival.

    It seems to be describing the child and not the arrival. But can this be used as an adverb?

    • The word this is a demonstrative adjective in your example. It does describe the child. The word this can be used as an adverb.
      Example: We had no idea we would have to wait this long.

  10. Carroll Finlay says:

    In the following sentence, is “these” or “those” the appropriate pronoun?

    We love Miami, NY and San Diego not only because they are exciting places to live, but also because we have family in these/those cities.

    • There is not always a clear choice between which of these two words to use. Usually, you would select those for things which are not physically nearby. However, these could be the better choice for things that are symbolically or emotionally close. In the case of your sentence, it’s your choice.

  11. Grace Ilagan says:

    Which is correct: I have not taken “this” or “these” much medicine.

  12. Emily Brown says:

    We are considering using the following title and tagline for our organization: “Sally’s House … helping those harmed by crime.” Is this correctly using the word “those”? And is “those” being used as a demonstrative adjective with people being implied, or as a demonstrative pronoun?

  13. Jo says:

    I couldn’t convince my partner that this sentence construction is incorrect.
    “The ultimate goal is to (do something). This by validating (something else).
    She used “this” in the second sentence to refer to the ultimate goal.
    I find such way of using “this” is incomplete.
    Is it correct to start a sentence with “This by”?

  14. Dragunov says:

    I have a confusion on the subject verb agreement in using this and that whenever they are followed by a verb.

    For instance, let this serves/serve as a reminder again to everyone.

    Another is, that seems/seem to be the correct answer.

  15. Rol says:

    A student is writing a research paper and states the following:

    I selected a multiple case study design. A case study design is appropriate for researchers to collect data from persons or groups (Yin, 2014).

    After arguing the benefits of a case study design for her study over alternative designs, which is the correct sentence latter in the paragraph?

    1. A multiple case study design is the most suitable for this study.
    2. The multiple case study design is the most suitable for the study.

  16. Eduardo Rios says:

    Can “this” be used at the beginning of a sentence, as a subject pronoun, not followed by a noun?
    It is a usual practice in scientific text. “Franklin has argued that storms are self-sustaining. This cannot be true because…”. But it is frowned upon by some journals. Right or wrong?

    • Yes, a sentence can begin with a demonstrative pronoun. Examples above include the following:
      This is mine.
      That is hers.
      These are mine.
      Those are yours.

      None of the style manuals we consulted have any rules prohibiting starting a sentence with a demonstrative pronoun. Scientific journals might have their own sets of rules or perhaps they are wary of overuse of such a construction, especially in cases where the meaning of what “this” refers to is not clear.

  17. kyuho sim says:

    is it possible to use Quantitative adjective right after Demonstrative adjective ?
    for example,
    These (lots of or too many or quite a few) complaints about poor service are really becoming problematic to handle.

    • The phrases lots of, too many, and quite a few are not grammatically correct after the word these in your example sentence. The adjectives many, numerous, or excessive are good alternatives. You could tighten the sentence further by writing “These (many, numerous, or excessive) complaints about poor service are becoming problematic.”

  18. Jimmy C Gore says:

    Is it correct that demonstrative adjectives are catergorized as articles/determiners?

    • Demonstrative adjectives are types of determiners. Articles (a, an, the) are also types of determiners. (In technical terms, articles and demonstrative adjectives both fall under the category of limiting adjectives, which are also referred to as noun markers or determiners because they indicate a noun is to follow.)

  19. Dee says:

    Can a possessive pronoun also be an adjective within the same sentence?

    “That blue car is mine.”

    Even though its main function is a possessive pronoun, “mine” still describes the car as an adjective. Or does an adjective only and always come before the noun it describes?

    • The word my is an adjective; however, mine is a pronoun (not an adjective) meaning “that which belongs to me.” An adjective can come before or after the noun it describes.

  20. Dona says:

    This is how I love you.

    How is the word this used in the sentence?

  21. Mandal says:

    He is rich and smart. This makes him a lucky guy.
    He is rich and smart. These make him a lucky guy.

    • Your sentence implies “This fact makes him a lucky guy.” Technically, “This” is a demonstrative pronoun whose antecedent is the entire preceding sentence and is the correct choice.

  22. Leandro says:

    Please, I have a question.
    I would like to know if in magazine titles we should write demonstrative pronouns (e.g. “this”) with a capital letter?
    Is it correct to write “Hack This Zine”, vol. 11 (2010), pp. 48-51?
    Is “Hack this Zine” or “Hack This Zine” correct as a magazine title?

  23. Laura says:

    I think the following sentences sound “weird” in regards to the use of “this” – however, English is not my first language and the text was professionally translated so maybe I’m wrong. Can you help me? Can “this” be used like this and refer back to the object mentioned in the first half of the sentence? Or should one go with “…and provide *it* to all employees…”

    “They receive the written report within two weeks of the meeting and provide this to all employees that took part in the meeting.”

  24. Rohan Zener says:

    “This” = indefinite singular
    “That” = definite singular
    “These” = indefinite plural
    “Those” = definite plural

    • says:

      If you are referring to something nearby or “over there,” it should be fairly clear which object(s) you are referring to. Therefore, they are all definite.
      See our post Indefinite Pronouns.

  25. sove says:

    Good post. I certainly love this site. Continue the good work!

  26. Hamdi says:

    Please tell me where this, that, these, and those can be used as adjectives or pronouns.
    Example: This is my car. This car is mine. In which sentence is the word this an adjective?

    • says:

      This is my car. (demonstrative pronoun)
      This car is mine. (demonstrative adjective)
      This is mine. (demonstrative pronoun referring to a car)

  27. Morgan says:

    Can a demonstrative adjective modify two succeeding nouns in a situation in which the first noun is plural and the second noun is singular, e.g., “I wish I had those assets and house,” or, in order to be grammatical, does the sentence need to read: “I wish I had those assets and that house”?

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