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This That These Those

Perfect English Grammar

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We use 'this / that / these / those' to show which things or people we mean.

We generally use 'this / that' to talk about one thing or person and 'these / those' to talk about more than one thing or person.
  • This car. (One car.)
  • These cars. (More than one car.)
  • That boy. (One boy.)
  • Those boys. (More than one boy.)
We can use 'this / that / these / those' before a noun, or by themselves. Here are some examples without nouns.
  • I’d like this, please.
  • That is beautiful!
  • Could I try these on?
  • She wants those.
When we use 'this / that / these / those' by themselves, they usually only talk about things, not people.
  • This child is hungry. (NOT: This is hungry.)
We usually use 'this / these' to talk about things or people that are close to us and 'that / those' to talk about things or people that are further away from us.
  • This book (in my hand) is really good, but that book (on the table) is boring.
'This / these' have a similar idea to 'here' and 'that / those' have a similar idea to 'there'.

As well as things that are near to us and far away from us in space, we can also use 'this / that / these / those' to talk about things that are near to us and far away from us in time. We usually use this / these for things in the present and that / those for things in the past.
  • I really like this film (that we’re watching now).
  • I hated that film (that we watched last week).
We can also use this and that more generally, to talk about a whole experience or a whole discussion. We often use 'that' when the other person has said something.
  • That’s a really good idea. (The things that you have explained.)
  • This is so amazing (I mean the whole experience of today).
We can use 'this' and 'that' by themselves exceptionally to talk about people when we say who the person is. This happens when we introduce people and on the telephone. When we're on the telephone, in UK English, we use 'this' to say who we are and 'that' to talk about the other person.
  • This is Julia. (Julia is speaking.)
  • Who is that?
(If we use a pronoun like 'me' on the telephone, we use 'it' not 'this': It's me. NOT: this is me.)

We can also use 'this' to introduce people to each other.
  • Amanda, this is John.
  • This is my friend Lukas.
Try an exercise about this / that / these / those here.