Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns refer to particular things that you've already mentioned in your writing or that can be figured out using context clues…

or by hiring a private investigator in a fedora that uses the word "dame" a lot.

You know the ones:
- This/These
- That/Those

Use the first in the pair for singular and the second in the pair for plural. And that is all she wrote.



" How is it so expensive? This can't be right! I only ordered a small Diet Coke and two crackers."

Here, you can use context clues to discern that this refers to the bill for what we can only assume was a terrible lunch.

" I have a fever, and I can't breathe out of my left nostril. These are both good reasons why I should stay home from school today."

Here, these refers to the two previously stated symptoms by the speaker to whom we prescribe chicken soup, Tylenol, and a Real Housewives of New Jersey marathon.

" On our vacation to Australia, we spotted a Southern Cassowary. That is the most dangerous bird in the world."

In this example, that refers to the Southern Cassowary, which was already mentioned and is totally terrifying.


Common mistakes

When demonstrative adjectives like this, that, those, and these aren't followed by nouns, they're not adjectives anymore—they're pronouns.

Your English teacher might tell you not to say "this" without a noun—"this argument" or "this book" or "this giant bucket of tapioca pearls," please. But, in the right context, it's totally fine. As long as there's enough context, that's what demonstrative pronouns exist for: to replace the nouns; not to add to them.


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