Demonstrative Pronouns

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What are they?

A demonstrative pronoun stands in for a person, place or thing and can function as a subject, an object or an object of the preposition. Consider the following example:

Original sentence: The dinner you are cooking smells heavenly.

Rewritten sentence: That smells heavenly.

In the rewritten sentence, “that” is a demonstrative pronoun and the subject of the sentence.

“This” and “that”

“This” is a singular demonstrative pronoun that represents a thing or things that are near in distance or time. It stands in for a noun in a sentence. Consider the following examples:

Example 1: This tastes scrumptious. (“This” is the subject.)

Example 2: Carly, would you mail this? (“This” is the object.)

Example 3: Does the wallpaper the decorator selected go with this? (“This” is the object of the preposition.)

“That” is a singular demonstrative pronoun that represents a thing or things that are far in distance or time. Consider the following examples:

Example 4: That should take some time to complete. (“That” is the subject.)

Example 5: Felicia selected that. (“That” is the object.)

Example 6: The boxes were stacked against that. (“That” is the object of the preposition.)

“These” and “those”

“These” is a plural demonstrative pronoun that represents a thing or things that are near in distance or time. Consider the following examples:

Example 1: These are the perfect earrings. (“These” is the subject.)

Example 2: Can Bridget locate these by the deadline? (“These” is the object.)

Example 3: Please read over these, and get back to me. (“These” is the object of the preposition.)

“Those” is a plural demonstrative pronoun that represents a thing or things that are far in distance or time. Consider the following examples:

Example 4: Those considering a career in architecture must study engineering. (“Those” is the subject.)

Example 5: Steven purchased those for the kids. (“Those” is the object.)

Example 6: Sebastian can play with those. (“Those” is the object of the preposition.)

Demonstrative pronouns and adjectives

Demonstrative pronouns and adjectives look identical (“this,” “that,” “these” and “those”). The difference is that a demonstrative adjective is found before the noun in a sentence, and a demonstrative pronoun takes the place of the noun in a sentence. Do not confuse the two. While they look exactly the same, a demonstrative pronoun stands alone, and a demonstrative adjective modifies a noun. Consider the following examples:

Example 1: That hurts. (“That” is the demonstrative pronoun.)

Example 2: That coffee is robust. (“That” is the demonstrative adjective, and “coffee” is the noun.)

In most cases, demonstrative pronouns are used for things. Use them for people when the person is identified. Consider the following examples:

Example 1: That sounds like Rebecca.

Example 2: This is Josephine speaking.