ESL – Demonstrative nouns 

5 April

Demonstrative nouns 

Groucho Marx and Esther Muir Acting a Scene from A Day at the Races


Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them . . . well, I have others.(Groucho Marx)

When used to represent a thing or things, demonstrative pronouns can be either near or far in distance or time:

  • Near in time or distance: this, these
  • Far in time or distance: that, those

Because there are only a few demonstrative pronouns in the English language, there are just three simple rules for using them correctly. Remember them and you will have no difficulty using these surprisingly interesting parts of speech.

  • Demonstrative pronouns always identify nouns, whether those nouns are named specifically or not. For example: “I can’t believe this.” We have no idea what “this” is, but it’s definitely something the writer cannot believe. It exists, even though we don’t know what it is.
  • Demonstrative pronouns are usually used to describe animals, places, or things, however they can be used to describe people when the person is identified, i.e., This sounds like Mary singing.
  • Do not confuse demonstrative adjectives with demonstrative pronouns. The words are identical, but demonstrative adjectives qualify nouns, whereas demonstrative pronouns stand alone.

Demonstrative pronouns can be used in place of a noun, so long as the noun being replaced can be understood from the pronoun’s context. Although this concept might seem a bit confusing at first, the following examples of demonstrative pronouns will add clarity.

Demonstrative Pronouns Examples

In the following examples, demonstrative pronouns have been italicized for ease of identification.

This was my mother’s ring.

That looks like the car I used to drive.

These are nice shoes, but they look uncomfortable.

Those look like riper than the apples on my tree.

Such was her command over the English language.

None of these answers are correct.

Neither of the horses can be ridden.

” A politician stuttering over the truth.  That‘s nnnnnot the first time. ”

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