Demonstrative Pronouns: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:01 Definition of…
  • 0:30 Demonstratives as…
  • 1:18 Using Demonstrative Pronouns
  • 2:25 Using Demonstrative Adjectives
  • 3:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Frances Smith
This lesson defines and explains the grammatical use of the English words called demonstratives. It describes how these parts of speech function as pronouns and adjectives, as well as their relationship to nouns. The lesson includes a short quiz.

Definition of Demonstrative Pronouns and Adjectives

Pointing your finger is non-verbal language commonly used to show direction or emphasize a command, like 'over there...right now!' Of course, the gesture only works when you can see the person who is pointing, but for spoken and written language, you need words to signal proximity or to specify objects.

In this case, English uses four words: this, these, that, and those. These are known as demonstrative pronouns and their purpose is to point to the position of persons or objects in time and place.

Demonstratives as Pronouns or Adjectives

English demonstratives can be pronouns or adjectives; when they tell where, they are pronouns, but when they tell which, they are adjectives. It is also easy to remember that when used as a pronoun, they are followed by a verb and when used as an adjective, they are followed by a noun.

This, those, that, and these are demonstrative pronouns when they are pointing to where an object is. They act like demonstrative adjectives when the speaker or writer needs to determine which object is being placed somewhere. Let's look at a couple examples.

These draw but those write. These and those are demonstrative pronouns in this sentence because they are showing where the object that draws and the object that writes are located.

These pencils and those pens draw and write. These and those are demonstrative adjectives in this sentence because they are specifying which pencils and pens.

Using Demonstrative Pronouns

A pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun or nouns. Pronouns have the same functions as nouns. They can be subjects or objects. Let's look at some examples where demonstratives are being used as pronouns.

This is Henry.

Those are grapes.

Also when pronouns, like nouns, are subjects, they must agree with their verbs. This chart shows the pronoun, subject, verb agreement.

Demonstrative Pronoun Number (Singular/Plural) Verb Number (Singular/Plural) Example
this (Singular) (Singular) This plays music.
these (Plural) (Plural) These play games.
that (Singular) (Singular) That music is loud.
those (Plural) (Plural) Those games are difficult.

As you can see by the chart, this and that are singular and these and those are plural. Demonstrative pronouns can be used to show that an object or objects are nearby or are far away or distant. Here are some examples:

This is Joel's.

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