Demonstratives point to or indicate specific people, places, or things in speech or writing. They include words such as “this,” “that,” “these,” and “those.”
The usage of demonstratives depends on the context of the communication. Generally, they help the listener or reader understand the person, place, or thing the speaker or writer refers to. Here are some common ways that demonstratives are used:
- Pointing to something nearby: When the speaker or writer refers to something close by, they might use “this” or “these.” For example, “This pen is mine” or “These cookies are delicious.”
- Pointing to something far away: When the speaker or writer refers to something far away, they might use “that” or “those.” For example, “That building over there is where I used to work” or “Those mountains in the distance are breathtaking.”
- Differentiating between two or more items: When the speaker or writer wants to distinguish between two or more items, they might use “this” and “these” to refer to the item(s) that are closer, and “that” and “those” to refer to the item(s) that are farther away. For example, “This shirt is blue, but that one is green.”
- Referring to something previously mentioned: When the speaker or writer wants to refer to something that has already been mentioned, they might use “this” or “these” to refer to the most recent item and “that” or “those” to refer to items mentioned earlier. For example, “I love all kinds of fruit, but these apples are my favorite. Those oranges over there look good too.”
When writing an academic text, it’s usually best to avoid demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns as it forces the writer to create more descriptive and more concise ideas. If you have demonstratives in your text, try to reword your text by replacing them with synonyms, hypernyms and hyponyms, meronyms, and direct repetition.