We use demonstrative pronouns to replace a noun or a noun phrase to show whether something or more things are near or far in space or time.
There are four demonstrative pronouns used as follow:
this to replace a singular noun (person or thing) that is around or nearby to the speaker.
that to replace a singular noun that is distant from the speaker.
these to replace a plural noun that is around or nearby to the speaker.
those to replace a plural noun that is distant from the speaker.
- This is what I have been looking for the whole day. (Used to show singular noun)
- We must tell the waitress this was not what we ordered. (Used to show close to the speaker)
- Is that your cat with no tail? (Used to show singular noun)
This beetle is bigger than that. (Used to show distant from the speaker)
We are not bringing these along with us. (Used to replace plural noun)
These are some of the letters I have to reply this week. (Used to show close to the speaker)
We chose a chocolate cake from those on sale at the bakery. (Used to replace plural noun)
I think that tree is the tallest among those in the park. (Used to show distant from the speaker)
Demonstrative pronoun replaces noun phrase
In the following examples, the bold words in the first sentences are noun phrases, while the bold words in the second sentences are demonstrative pronouns replacing the noun phrases.
- The new pair of shoes is tight and it hurts a bit. This is tight and it hurts a bit.
- The Asian food is a bit spicy. That is a bit spicy.
- The ingredients will be added to the chicken soup. These will be added to the chicken soup.
- What are the two bright objects hovering in the sky? What are those?
A demonstrative pronoun can be a subject or object in a sentence
- This is the oldest building in town. (Subject)
I hate this. Please take it away. (Object)
That has to be the best dinner we have had for a long time. (Subject)
He kept talking about himself and nobody liked that. (Object)
Demonstrative pronoun and demonstrative adjective
A word is not a demonstrative pronoun if it comes before a noun. Such a word is in fact a demonstrative adjective which precedes a noun and acts as a modifier of the noun. It should not be confused with a demonstrative pronoun which does not modify a noun. Unlike the demonstrative adjective, a demonstrative pronoun replaces a noun and stands on its own in a sentence.
- Demonstrative pronoun: This is the same story I heard from him before.
Demonstrative adjective: This story is the same one I heard from him before.
- Demonstrative pronoun: That is not a bird; it is a kite.
Demonstrative adjective: That kite looks like a bird.