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Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns point out (or “demonstrate”) a noun antecedent.

  • This is my favorite song.
  • That was a day to remember.

The table that follows shows the two demonstrative pronouns in singular and plural forms.

SingularPlural
thisthese
thatthose

This often indicates something nearer to the speaker, while that indicates something farther away. This and that are also used in contrast to each other.

  • This is my notebook, but that is Trina’s notebook.

The antecedent of a demonstrative pronoun is often omitted or may be implied from the context.

  • Which earrings do you like best? These are nice, but I think those are the prettiest.
  • I wish you would not do that.

When using demonstrative pronouns in your writing, make sure that the antecedents are clear. Demonstrative pronouns can easily become vague and meaningless (common sentence problems: lack of agreement).

  • We are going to a movie after we finish our homework. That will be fun. (What will be fun? Going to a movie, or finishing our homework?)

This/these and that/those can also be used as demonstrative adjectives, to modify nouns.

Demonstrative adjective:

  • This car belongs to Trina. (This modifies the noun car.)

Demonstrative pronoun:

  • This is Trina’s car, not mine. (This, acting as the subject of the sentence, stands in for the noun car.)

Common Pitfall: “This Kind,” “Those Sorts”

The common English expressions that kind, those sorts, this sort, and so on, often cause problems related to agreement. First, the adjective and any nouns associated with it must all be singular or all be plural.

  • Incorrect: Those kind of things…
  • Correct: This kind of thing…
  • Correct: Those kinds of things…
  • Incorrect: Those sort of thing…
  • Correct: That sort of thing…
  • Correct: Those sorts of things…

Second, the verb following the expression must agree in number.

  • Singular: That kind of thing does not interest me.
  • Plural: Those kinds of things do not interest me.

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