Demonstrative Pronouns: Definition and Examples (2023)

by Craig Shrives

What Are Demonstrative Pronouns? (with Examples)

A demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun that represents a noun and expresses its position as near or distant (including in time). The demonstrative pronouns are "this," "that," "these," and "those."

  • Is this is your pen?
  • (The demonstrative pronoun "this" represents the noun "pen" and expresses its position as near.)
  • Choose some bananas. Those look fresher than these.
  • (The demonstrative pronoun "those" represents the noun "bananas" and expresses their position as distant. "These" also represents the noun "bananas" and expresses their position as near.)

Table of Contents

  • Easy Examples of Demonstrative Pronouns
  • The Antecedent of a Demonstrative Pronoun
  • Demonstrative Pronouns vs Demonstrative Determiners
  • More about Demonstrative Pronouns
  • Why Demonstrative Pronouns Are Important
  • Printable Test
Demonstrative Pronouns: Definition and Examples (1)

Easy Examples of Demonstrative Pronouns

  • This is ludicrous.
  • ("This" could mean "the work we are doing.")
  • Is that yours?
  • ("That" could mean "the bike over there.")
  • Eat these tonight.
  • ("These" could mean "the shrimps in my hand.")
  • Throw those away.
  • ("Those" could mean "the rolls in the cupboard.")

The Antecedent of a Demonstrative Pronoun

Like all pronouns, demonstrative pronouns represent nouns or noun phrases. More specifically, a demonstrative pronoun represents something that has been previously mentioned or is understood from context (called the antecedent of the pronoun). For example:

  • Do you know the meal deal on the radio? Can I have that please?
  • (Here, "that" represents something previously mentioned. The antecedent of "that" is the noun phrase "the meal deal on the radio." It is something out of sight, i.e., distant.)
  • This is delicious.
  • (Here, the context tells us what "this" represents. The antecedent of "this" is still "the meal deal on the radio." Now, however, it is something near.)
  • There were two drinks mentioned in the advertisement. Can I have those please?
  • (The antecedent of "those" is "two drinks mentioned in the advertisement." They are out of sight, i.e., distant.)
  • These are delicious.
  • (The antecedent of "these" is still "two drinks mentioned in the advertisement." Now, however, they are near. With demonstrative pronouns, the antecedent does not always appear in nearby text. It is often understood from the context of the speaker's surroundings.)

The singular demonstrative pronouns "this" and "that" represent singular things. The plural demonstrative pronouns "these" and "those" represent plural things.

(Video) Demonstrative pronouns | Basic English grammar

Notice that, as well as telling us whether its antecedent is singular or plural, a demonstrative pronoun also tell us whether its antecedent is near or distant. "This" and "these" represent near things. "That" and "those" represent distant things.

  • Paint this but not that. Remove these but not those.
  • (Demonstrative pronouns are pretty efficient. They tell us what, how many, and where. These two short sentences convey the following information: "Paint the nearby wall I'm pointing to but not the distant wall I'm pointing to. Remove the picture hooks I'm pointing to but not those distant picture hooks I'm pointing to.")

Demonstrative Pronouns vs Demonstrative Determiners

Demonstrative pronouns do not modify nouns. When "this," "that," "these," and "those" modify nouns, they are demonstrative determiners (called demonstrative adjectives in traditional grammar).

In the four examples below, we have demonstrative determiners modifying nouns (shown in bold). In the "Easy Examples" section above, the demonstrative pronouns represented these nouns.

  • This work is ludicrous.
  • Is that bike yours?
  • Eat these shrimps tonight.
  • Throw those rolls away.

The difference between demonstrative determiners and demonstrative pronouns is clearer when the examples are side by side:

Demonstrative DeterminerDemonstrative Pronoun
This lecture is boring.This is boring.
That plan is not the answer.That is not the answer.
These sherbet lemon drops from Italy are tastyThese are tasty.
Those apples are inedible.Those are inedible.

More about Demonstrative Pronouns

There are a couple of quirks with demonstrative pronouns.

(Quirk 1) A demonstrative pronoun doesn't always represent something known to audience.

In the examples below, we don't know what "those" or "that" represents until we've read the descriptions. (The descriptions (shown in bold) are called relative clauses.)

(Video) What is demonstrative pronoun/Definition of demonstrative pronoun in english grammar

  • Fear not those who argue but those who dodge. (Author Dale Carnegie)
  • That which is unjust can really profit no one; that which is just can really harm no one. (Economist Henry George)

(Quirk 2) The "antecedent" of a demonstrative pronoun can come after it.

Occasionally, the thing the demonstrative pronoun represents comes after the demonstrative pronoun. When this happens, it's called a "postcedent" (shown in bold) not an antecedent.

  • That is why every military officer fights – so there may be peace. (Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos)
  • (The President deliberately used the wrong word order for emphasis. Anastrophe this technique is called.)

Why Demonstrative Pronouns Are Important

The most common writing issue involving a demonstrative pronoun is a weak, ambiguous, or non-existent link to its antecedent (sometimes called "a faulty pronoun reference").

(Top Issue) When using a demonstrative pronoun, make sure your link to its antecedent is obvious.

Typically, the antecedent of a demonstrative pronoun is close by in the previous text. In these two examples, the links to the antecedents (shown in bold) are not ambiguous.

  • My court case isn't a trial. This is a lynching. (Pathologist Jack Kevorkian)
  • Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. (Playwright George Bernard Shaw)
  • (The whole previous sentence, i.e., the idea, is the antecedent of "That.")

You must ensure your demonstrative pronoun's antecedent is clear. Let's imagine George Bernard Shaw had written this instead:

  • Liberty means responsibility. That is what most men dread.
  • (Is the antecedent of "that" the whole idea as before? It's now less clear because the antecedent could be liberty or responsibility.)

Here are some more examples with ambiguous antecedents:

(Video) (ENGLISH) What is a Demonstrative Pronoun? | #iQuestionPH

  • Expect a Spanish policeman to check you have a reflective jacket, a warning triangle, headlamp beam deflectors, a GB sticker, and a spare set of headlamp bulbs, although these are no longer compulsory.
  • (Now, it's pretty clear that the antecedent of "these" is "a spare set of headlamp bulbs," but it could feasibly be the whole list.)
  • The next intake of recruits will receive four presentations on the new procedures. These are scheduled to start in mid-August.
  • (The antecedent of "these" is ambiguous. It could be "the recruits," "the presentations," or "the procedures.")

Such ambiguity occurs because a writer knows what the antecedent is and assumes others will spot it with the same clarity of thought. (Unfortunately though, that clarity of thought doesn't always shine through the words.)

The issue most often occurs when a writer has expressed a multi-component idea and then starts a sentence with a term like "This means...," "This explains...," or "This is why...."

If you find yourself starting a sentence with a demonstrative pronoun, ask yourself a question like "What means...," "What explains...," or "What is why...." If the answer doesn't leap out at you, you should consider a rewrite or a demonstrative determiner and a noun to spell it out more clearly.

  • The next intake of recruits will receive four presentations on the new procedures. These presentations are scheduled to start in mid-August.
  • (Now we have a demonstrative determiner modifying the noun "presentations." You've spelt it out more clearly. The ambiguity is gone.)

Key Point

  • If you start a sentence with a term like "This is..." or "That suggests...," make sure it's clear what your "This" or "That" refers to.
Take another test on demonstrative pronouns.

Printable Test

(Video) Demonstrative Pronouns: this, that, these, those

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See Also

Take a test on demonstrative pronounsWhat are pronouns?Try our drag-and-drop test on the different types of pronounWhat are nouns?What are demonstrative determiners (aka demonstrative adjectives)?What are adjectives?What does modify mean?Glossary of grammatical termsThe different types of pronounsWhat are indefinite pronouns? What are interrogative pronouns?What are personal pronouns?What are possessive pronouns?What are reciprocal pronouns?What are relative pronouns?What are reflexive pronouns?

(Video) Demonstrative Pronouns | Pronouns Part - 6 English by Kapil Dev Sharma


Demonstrative Pronouns: Definition and Examples? ›

What is a demonstrative pronoun? A demonstrative pronoun is a word used to stand in for a noun. They are used to point to something or someone specific (e.g., “this is my sister”). The English demonstrative pronouns are this, that, these, and those.

What are the 10 examples of demonstrative pronoun? ›

Examples of Demonstrative Pronoun
  • This is my mother's sweet home.
  • That looks like fox.
  • These are nice flowers but smell bad.
  • Those are wild animals and very dangerous.
  • This is my school where I come daily to learn.
  • That is not a playground but kids play.
  • These are my favorite dishes.
  • Those are mine clothes.

What is demonstrative pronouns with example sentence? ›

Demonstrative Pronouns Examples

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.

What are 2 examples of demonstrative? ›

Examples of Demonstrative Adjectives
  • This hospital was where I was born.
  • I am not in a situation to lend you money at this moment.
  • The ambience of this cafe is soothing.
  • That boy was the one who won the first prize in the Inter-state singing competition.
  • Can you send those packages to the store?

What are the 4 demonstrative pronouns in English? ›

All four of the words this, that, these, and those are used as demonstrative pronouns and another part of speech called demonstrative adjectives. Usage highly overlaps as all four words keep their same meanings regardless of what part of speech they are used as.

How do you identify demonstrative pronouns? ›

A demonstrative pronoun is a word used to stand in for a noun. They are used to point to something or someone specific (e.g., “this is my sister”). The English demonstrative pronouns are this, that, these, and those.

What are the 6 demonstrative pronouns? ›

Pronouns that point to specific things: this, that, these, and those, as in “This is an apple,” “Those are boys,” or “Take these to the clerk.” The same words are used as demonstrative adjectives when they modify nouns or pronouns: “this apple,” “those boys.”

What are the English 3 demonstrative pronouns? ›

This, that, these and those are the demonstrative pronouns in the English language.

Can you end a sentence with a demonstrative pronoun? ›

Yes, you can end your English sentences with demonstrative pronouns. For example: Joan gave me those.

What are the different types of demonstrative? ›

There are four demonstratives in English: the "near" demonstratives this and these, and the "far" demonstratives that and those. This and that are singular; these and those are plural. A demonstrative pronoun distinguishes its antecedent from similar things. (For example, "Let me pick out the books.

How do you use demonstrative in a sentence? ›

1. He greeted us in a demonstrative manner. 2. Some people are more demonstrative than others.

What are 5 examples of demonstrative determiners? ›

Demonstrative Determiners
  • This is a wonderful day.
  • This is a scary moment.
  • You don't find many gentlemen these days.
  • Here is the moment you waited for years.
Feb 23, 2020

What are the 5 demonstrative adjective? ›

Demonstrative adjectives : this, that, these, those | Learn and Practise Grammar. Quantifiers, possessives and demonstratives. Demonstratives.

What is the difference between demonstrative pronouns and adjectives? ›

The main difference between demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns is that demonstrative adjectives modify a noun whereas demonstrative pronouns replace a noun.

What are the 4 most common pronouns? ›

Common pronouns include she/her/hers, he/him/his, and they/them/theirs.

Why are demonstrative pronouns important? ›

Generally, it is useful for your readers to offer a noun (person, place, thing, or idea) or a noun phrase (a phrase describing a person, place, thing, or idea) following the demonstrative pronoun to make it clear for your readers precisely which concept you are referencing from the previous sentence or idea.

What is the difference between pronoun and demonstrative pronoun? ›

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. A demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun used to point something out. The demonstrative pronouns are this, that, these and those.

How to differentiate between demonstrative pronoun and demonstrative? ›

Demonstrative Pronoun vs Demonstrative Adjective

If we put it simply, demonstrative adjectives and pronouns are used to refer to specific objects or people. The difference between the two is that while the demonstrative adjective needs a noun to qualify it, the demonstrative pronoun stands alone.

What are the seven major pronouns? ›

The Seven Types of Pronouns. There are seven types of pronouns that both English and English as a second language writers must recognize: the personal pronoun, the demonstrative pronoun, the interrogative pronoun, the relative pronoun, the indefinite pronoun, the reflexive pronoun, and the intensive pronoun.

Are demonstrative pronouns third person? ›

33 languages (out of the 52) have demonstratives any one of which can be used as a third person pronoun. In the case of four languages, there is a distinct third person pronoun, but the demonstratives can also function as third person pronouns.

Can a demonstrative pronoun stand alone? ›

They are identical, but a demonstrative pronoun stands alone, while a demonstrative adjective qualifies a noun. Normally we use demonstrative pronouns for things only. But we can use them for people when the person is identified.

What do you use demonstrative pronouns to avoid? ›

Good academic writers often use demonstrative pronouns and adjectives to avoid repetition and wordiness, (writing too many words), and to create cohesion (unity) in and between paragraphs. Such cohesion can be created by referring to words, ideas or information…

What kind of pronoun is herself? ›


What is the best definition of demonstrative? ›

: demonstrating as real or true. : characterized or established by demonstration. grammar : pointing out the one referred to and distinguishing it from others of the same class (as in that in "that house") demonstrative pronouns. demonstrative adjectives.

What does it mean if a person is demonstrative? ›

People who are demonstrative easily and clearly show their emotions. A demonstrative person might shout "Hooray" and jump for joy at good news. A non-demonstrative person might feel no less excited, but refrain from demonstrating it. To demonstrate means to show, so think of demonstrative as showing.

What are the common demonstrative adjectives list? ›

The most commonly used demonstrative adjectives are this, that, these, and those.

What are the 12 demonstrative adjectives? ›

Unlike English, Spanish has three sets of demonstrative adjectives, which vary by number and gender, so there are 12 in all:
  • singular masculine. este (this) ese (that) aquel (that)
  • plural masculine. estos (these) esos (those) ...
  • singular feminine. esta (this) esa (that) ...
  • plural feminine. estas (these) esas (those)
Sep 21, 2018

Where are demonstrative adjectives located in a sentence? ›

Demonstrative adjectives come right before the nouns they modify. Choose the correct demonstrative adjective by identifying the location of the noun (near or far from you) and how many there are (singular or plural). This puppy keeps licking me.

What are the 10 examples of possessive adjectives? ›

Possessive adjectives and possessive pronouns
  • I : my : mine.
  • you : your : yours.
  • she : her : hers.
  • he : his : his.
  • it : its : its (Note: In general, it is preferred not to use its by itself as a pronoun.)
  • we : our : ours.
  • they : their : theirs.
  • who: whose : whose.
Aug 4, 2021

Can demonstrative pronouns be used as adjectives? ›

This, that, these, and those (and neither, none, and such) can also function as demonstrative adjectives.

What are the pronouns for a female? ›

She, her, hers and he, him, his are common and more familiar pronouns. Some people call these “female/feminine” and “male/masculine” pronouns, but many avoid these labels because, for example, not everyone who uses he feels like a “male” or “masculine”.

What is the rule of pronouns? ›

RULE: Pronouns have three cases: nominative (I, you, he, she, it, they), possessive (my, your, his, her, their), and objective (me, him, her, him, us, them). Use the nominative case when the pronoun is the subject of your sentence, and remember the rule of manners: always put the other person's name first!

What is the main usage of demonstratives? ›

Demonstratives are used to specify the distance of something in space or time in relation to the speaker. The demonstratives are: this, that, these, those. This and these refer to objects near the speaker.

What are the top 10 examples of pronoun? ›

Some examples of pronouns are I, he, him, you, we, him, her, yours, theirs, someone, where, when, yourselves, themselves, oneself, is, hers, when, whom, whose, each other, one another, everyone, nobody, none, each, anywhere, anyone, nothing, etc.

What are 7 pronoun with examples? ›

In Modern English the personal pronouns include: "I," "you," "he," "she," "it," "we," "they," "them," "us," "him," "her," "his," "hers," "its," "theirs," "our," "your." Personal pronouns are used in statements and commands, but not in questions; interrogative pronouns (like "who," "whom," "what") are used there.

What are the 10 examples of distributive pronoun? ›

Examples of Distributive Pronoun
  • Each of the students have participated in the drama act.
  • I may buy either of these two gifts.
  • Neither of them plays well.
  • Each one of you will be awarded with bravery award.
  • Everyone must finish the breakfast.
  • Either of you can help me in this matter.

What are the 100 examples of pronoun? ›

Pronouns are classified as personal (I, we, you, he, she, it, they), demonstrative (this, these, that, those), relative (who, which, that, as), indefinite (each, all, everyone, either, one, both, any, such, somebody), interrogative (who, which, what), reflexive (myself, herself), possessive (mine, yours, his, hers, ...

What are the 14 pronoun words? ›

Pronoun examples
Personal PronounsI; we; you; he; she; it.
Demonstrative pronounsthey; this; these; that; those.
Interrogative pronounswho; whoever; whom; whomever; which; whichever;
Relative pronounswho; whose; whom; which; that.
Indefinite pronounseach; all; everyone; either; one; both; any; such;
2 more rows

What are the 25 pronouns? ›

25 Most Common Pronouns
  • it.
  • I.
  • you.
  • he.
  • they.
  • we.
  • she.
  • who.


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