This vs These: Mastering the Art of Demonstrative Pronouns

By Strategically AI. Reviewed by Rebecca Hey.
Updated January 15, 2024
3 minute read
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Hello, language explorers! Today, let's dive into a common English language conundrum: when to use "this" and when to use "these." It might seem trivial, but choosing the right word can significantly impact the clarity of your communication. Whether you're writing an email, engaging in conversation, or crafting a story, knowing the difference between "this" and "these" is crucial. So, let's unravel this mystery together with some easy explanations and examples.

Understanding "This" and "These"

At the heart of the matter, "this" and "these" are demonstrative pronouns. They help us specify which objects or people we're talking about. The key to using them correctly lies in understanding number (singular or plural) and proximity (near or far).

The Singular "This"

Use "this" when referring to a single item that is close to you. It's all about something singular and within reach, either literally or figuratively.

Example: "This book in my hand is my favorite."

The Plural "These"

On the flip side, "these" is used for multiple items that are near you. It's the plural buddy of "this."

Example: "These books on the table are all mysteries."

Examples in Context

Let's put "this" and "these" into action:

  • In a Meeting: "This is the proposal I was talking about." (Referring to one specific proposal)
  • While Shopping: "These shoes are really comfortable!" (Referring to several pairs of shoes)

The Impact of Using "This" and "These" Correctly

Choosing the right word helps in painting a clear picture for your listener or reader. It's about precision and ease of understanding.

Clarity in Communication

Using "this" and "these" correctly can eliminate confusion. For instance, saying "This is important" clearly indicates that you're talking about one specific thing.

Enhancing Descriptive Writing

In writing, especially narratives, the correct use of "this" and "these" can make your descriptions more vivid and engaging.

Conclusion

Remember, "this" for single, nearby items and "these" for multiple, nearby items. Mastering the use of "this" and "these" will not only boost your grammar skills but also enhance the clarity and effectiveness of your communication. So, the next time you're in doubt, think about number and proximity, and you'll be on the right track!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can "this" and "these" be used for abstract concepts?

Yes, "this" and "these" can refer to abstract ideas as well as physical objects, as long as the ideas are singular or plural, respectively.

How can I practice using "this" and "these"?

Try describing objects around you using "this" and "these," or rewrite sentences switching between the two to see which fits best.

Is there a difference in pronunciation between "this" and "these"?

Yes, "this" has a short 'i' sound, while "these" has a long 'e' sound.

Can "this" and "these" be used at the beginning of a sentence?

Absolutely! Both can be used to start sentences when pointing out or introducing something or someone.

Are there similar rules for "that" and "those"?

Yes, "that" is used for singular, distant items, and "those" for plural, distant items, mirroring the rules of "this" and "these."

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Rebecca Hey
Founder of Strategically.co, we’ve created over 10 million words of impactful content, driving organic traffic growth for more than 300 businesses.

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