Grammar: How to Use This/That/These/Those

This lesson will explain the difference in meaning and grammar between the words this/these and that/those.

This & These : Objects That Are Close

Use this to talk about a singular object (one thing) that is close to you.

The difference between this and that

  • This cat is happy. (the noun ‘cat’ is singular, which means there is only one)

Use these to talk about plural objects (more than one thing) that are close to you.

That (not this) cat is happy.

  • These cats happy. (the noun ‘cats’ is plural; there is more than one; the noun has an ‘s’)

That & Those : Objects That Are Far

Use that to talk about a singular object (one thing) that is far from you.

That can is far away.

  • That cat is sad. (The noun is singular and the object is not close to you; it is far away)

Use those to talk about plural objects (more than one thing) that are far from you.

Those cats are sad and far away.

  • Those cats are sad. (the noun (cats) is plural, and they are far away)

Hint: These words function similarly to here and there.

  • Use this/these for something/things that is ‘here‘ (close to you)
  • Use that/those for things that are ‘there‘ (at a greater distance from you)

The Grammar: Two Ways to use ‘This/That/These/Those’

The words this/that and these/those can be used in two ways.

1) As a (Demonstrative) Adjective before a Noun

In the below sentences, the determine (this/these) tell you which noun you are talking about.

  • This sentence has five words. (This + singular noun)
  • These words are blue. (These + plural noun)

Do you remember the cats from above? They are far from us now, so we can use ‘That/These’.

  • I remember that sad cat from above. (That + singular noun)
  • Those sad cats had blue eyes.  (Those + plural noun)

When the words this/these/that/those come before a noun, they function as adjectives. Technically, these words are called demonstrative adjectives.


2) As a Pronoun (without a Noun)

  • I understand this.

What is ‘This’? It is what we are doing now. We are studying grammar. This = this lesson. “I understand this” is the same as “I understand this (lesson)”. However, because the noun (lesson) is clear, we don’t need to use it. Instead, we just use ‘this’. ‘This’ becomes the noun of the sentence, and it’s called a pronoun because it refers to something else.

Do you remember the happy cats?

  • Yes, you remember those. (those = those cats)

Summary: This/These vs That/Those

  • If an object is here‘(close), then use this if it is singular, and these if it is plural (more than one)
  • If an object is there (farther away), then use that if is it singular, and those if it is plural (more than one)

This/that can also describe ideas that are close (here) and farther away. For example, here are two topics:

  • English Grammar  <– This is what we are studying on this page. This idea is close.
  • The History of India <– That is not what we are studying. That idea is farther away.

In other words, these words are used for physical distance and distance between ideas that are closer (here) and farther away (there).


Other Common Uses of This/That

When we introduce ourself on the phone, we use this.

  • “Hello. This is Matthew calling. I’d like to talk to…”

We often use ‘this’ or ‘these’ to talk about the present, and ‘that’ or ‘those’ to talk about the past.

  • I feel good this morning. (Present / Demonstrative Adjective)
  • That was the worst day of my life. (Past / Pronoun)
  • These days, the weather is getting warmer. (Present / Demonstrative Adjective)
  • Those were the best days of my life. (Past / Pronoun)

Do you think you understand? Try the practice exercises below.

Practice Exercises: This/These/That/Those

  1.  sentence is in English.
  2. Today is Friday. Mike has already exercised four times  week. He doesn’t go to the gym on Saturday or Sunday.  are his days off.
  3. Facebook has many users.  website was created by Mark Zuckerberg.
  4.  website is called EnglishCurrent. It has lessons on articles, prepositions, and idioms pages can also be useful for students.
  5. I think  exercises are easy. days, many people study English online. Before the Internet became popular, people probably studied more in public places, like libraries, or with their friends. Being a student was different in  days.
  6. ”  shoes are much more expensive than  shoes we saw yesterday.”
  7.  movie is boring. I wish we had gone to see Black Panther. I heard  movie is full of action.”
  8. A: “Mom, who gave you  flowers over there?” B: “Your father did.”


Questions? Find a mistake? Please leave a comment below.

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