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Demonstrative adjectives

What are demonstrative adjectives? In English, they are this/these, that/those. Demonstrative adjectives are used to point out people and things that are nouns. The demonstrative adjective must be in accordance with the noun, whether it is in plural or singular.

This/that = singular 

  • I like this cat.
  • This guy really knows what he’s talking about.
  • She really wants to get to know that man.
  • I haven’t seen that lady before in my life.

These/those = plural 

  • I’ve never seen those people before.
  • Can you please show me those books after you’ve read them?
  • I like this pencil but these pencils are much prettier.
  • These clients of ours are constantly ringing up.

Demonstrative adjectives vs. demonstrative pronouns

Demonstrative adjectives: point out or signal things and people, they act as adjectives

  • I like that dog of yours.  (‘dog’ is the noun being pointed out)
  • Mary loves those friends of hers. (‘friends’ are the people being pointed out) 

Demonstrative pronouns: take the exact same form as demonstrative adjectives (this/these, that/those), only that they do not modify or point out the noun

They stand alone as pronouns, therefore they can’t function as adjectives, but as pronouns. 

  • This is so stupid.  (‘this’ refers to whatever activity is stupid)
  • These are the worst I have met.  (Here, ‘these’ could refer to the people he met)
  • I like these. (‘these’ refers to whatever he/she likes)

In all the above examples the demonstrative pronouns replace the nouns, therefore they cannot be demonstrative adjectives.

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Lesson #19: Demonstrative adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives are: this, these, that and those. We use demonstrative adjectives to signal or point out to people or thing(s). We must be careful whether we use singular or plural nouns because this and that modify singular nouns (people or things), while these and those modify plural nouns. That and those usually imply that something or someone is further away from the speaker than this and these.  

Context

  • Hey Thomas, how’s that1 Spanish course coming along2?
  • It’s going great. This is the first time I’ve tried learning a language using online tutorials.
  • So, what do you think of these3 tutorials then? Effective? Worth your time4?
  • Well, remember that5 Spanish professor we had in university? Her name was Elena.
  • Yes, I faintly remember her.
  • Well, it was her who recommended to me to start taking a Spanish course online, so I can keep up6 my level.
  • How is the course structured?
  • Well, can you see these7 animations and text on the screen?
  • It’s just that, text with narration and some animations to go with it.
  • Oh, I like those ones (animations). They look super cool!
  • Yeah, it’s pretty cool and you learn heaps8 as well.
  • I’m going to buy this course for myself9.

Analysis

  1. How’s that Spanish course: that is used because the person is talking about the Spanish course as being something distant.
  2. Coming along: a phrasal verb that means how the progress of something or someone is going.
  3. These tutorials then: ­these is used because tutorials is plural here and the tutorials are now closer in context. That’s why it’s not those tutorials.
  4. Worth your time? This is short for Are the tutorials worth your time? This is a form of ellipsis where we can omit certain words in English that are already assumed in order to make the sentence shorter.
  5. Remember that Spanish teacher: that is used because the Spanish teacher is seen as someone distant from the past. We can’t use this in this context.
  6. Keep up: a phrasal verb meaning maintain (usually a level or skillset).
  7. These animations: the animations are right on the screen, so we can use the demonstrative adjective these to show something that is plural and close to the speakers. 
  8. Heaps: means a lot.
  9. Myself: a reflexive pronoun. Reflexive pronouns are: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.

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