Demonstrative Pronouns in Spanish

Instructor: Janet Long

Janet has taught college Spanish and English courses and has master's degrees in Spanish literature and TESOL.

Which one do you want? This one or that one? This lesson will teach you the vocabulary for the demonstrative pronouns in Spanish and how to use them to say what you want.

Location, Location, Location

Every day we say things like 'I want to do this' or 'I'd like that one', especially when we go shopping. Let's say that we're going to a market in Mexico to buy some fruit. We'll need to be able to tell the vendor what fruits we want: these here, the ones he is standing by, or the ones over there. To do this we use demonstrative pronouns, which tell the location of the thing that we want. In this lesson we'll learn the vocabulary for the demonstrative pronouns in Spanish, their different forms, and how to use them.

We can use demonstrative pronouns when shopping to tell the vendor what items we want to buy, like at this fruit market in Mexico.
Vegetables and Fruits in a Market

Here, There, or Over There

There are several vocabulary words for the demonstrative pronouns in Spanish. In the chart, you'll see that there are masculine, feminine, and neuter - or no gender - forms for the pronouns. The masculine and feminine pronouns can be either singular (ending in -e or -el for masculine and -a for feminine), or plural (ending in -s). Also, you'll see that there are two words that mean 'those', ése and aquél. We'll look at those in more detail a little later.

Singular Pronoun Spanish Pronunciation Plural Pronouns Spanish Pronunciation
this one (m) éste ay-stay these (m) éstos ay-stohs
this one (f) ésta ay-stah these (f) éstas ay-stahs
this (n) esto ay-stoh
that one (m) ése ay-say those (m) ésos ay-sohs
that one (f) ésa ay-sah those (f) ésas ay-sahs
that (n) eso ay-soh
that one (m) aquél ah-kayl those (m) aquéllos ah-kay-yohs
that one (f) aquélla ah-kay-yah those (f) aquéllas ah-kay-yahs
that (n) aquello ah-kay-yoh

Here is a little rhyme that can help you to remember the meaning of the words:

This and these have T's. That and those don't.

This should help you remember that éste, ésta and esto mean 'this', and that éstos and éstas mean 'these'. All of the other words, ése, ésa, eso and aquél, aquélla, aquello, and their plural forms mean 'that' or 'those'.

Masculine, Feminine, or Not

You'll see that the demonstrative pronouns have three different gender types: masculine, feminine, or no gender (neuter). The masculine pronouns, like éste, ése, and aquél, are used to refer to nouns or things in Spanish that are grammatically masculine. For example, if we want to tell the vendor that we want el límon (lemon), we could say Quiero éste (I want this). If we want a group of lemons, we would use the plural form and say Quiero éstos (I want these).

Ésta, ésa, and aquélla are used before nouns that are feminine, like la naranja (orange). To say that you'd like those oranges, you'd say Quiero ésas (I want these), but if you want only one you'd say Quiero ésa (I want this).

Neuter pronouns are used when you don't know the gender of the noun or thing, when you refer to an abstract concept, or when you are talking about a situation in general. All three of the neuter pronouns end in 'o', and none of them have accent marks. You can use neuter pronouns to ask for a fruit when you don't remember its name in Spanish, or if you don't remember if it's masculine or feminine. You could just say Quiero aquellos (I want those). Also, if you see a fruit that looks good, but you don't know what it is, you could ask the vendor Qué es esto? (What is this?) to learn the name.

There or There

The different forms of éso and aquél all mean 'there', but they have different meanings. We use ése, ésa, eso, ésos and ésas to talk about things that are not close to us, but that are close to the person that we are talking to. If the fruit vendor is standing next to las manzanas (the apples), and we want to buy some, we'd ask him for ésas.

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