21 February 2014

Demonstratives in English

Demonstratives are words that show which person or thing is being referred to. In the sentence:
'This is my brother',
'this' is a demonstrative

The demonstratives in English are thisthatthese, and those

1. Function
The demonstratives this, that, these, those ,show where an object or person is in relation to the speaker.

This (singular) and these (plural) refer to an object or person near the speaker. That(singular) and those (plural) refer to an object or person further away. It can be a physical closeness or distance as in:

  • ·         Who owns that house? (distant)
  • ·         Is this John's house? (near)

Or it can be a psychological distance as in:
  • ·         That's nothing to do with me.. (distant)
  • ·         This is a nice surprise! (near)

2. Position
  • ·         Before the noun.
  • ·         Before the word 'one'.
  • ·         Before an adjective + noun.
  • ·         Alone when the noun is 'understood'.

Demonstrative pronouns vs Demonstrative Adjectives

A distinction must be made between demonstrative adjectives (or demonstrative determiners) and demonstrative pronouns (or independent demonstratives).
A demonstrative adjective modifies a noun:
This apple is good. I like those houses. (This modifies 'apple' and those modifies 'houses')
A demonstrative pronoun stands on its own, replacing rather than modifying a noun:
This is good. I like those. (This and those don't modify any nouns they stand alone and replace other nouns)

Use of demonstratives
Demonstratives differ according to:
  • ·         distance: near or far,
  • ·         or number: singular or plural.

Here are the main distinctions:
  • ·         This  modifies or refers to singular nouns that are near to the speaker.
  • ·         That  modifies or refers to singular nouns that are far from the speaker.
  • ·         These modifies or refers to plural nouns that are near to the speaker.
  • ·         Those modifies or refers to plural nouns that are far from the speaker.

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