a red siamese fighting fish

Demonstrative Adjectives

Demonstrative adjectives are adjectives used to specify a certain noun or pronoun and indicate its proximity to the speaker. Demonstrative adjectives generally closely precede the noun or pronoun they modify. It is important not to confuse demonstrative adjectives with demonstrative pronouns. Demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns are the same words and differ only in function. Similar to nominal adjectives, the words on the demonstrative adjective list may also function as demonstrative pronouns depending on how they are used, so be careful!

There are six demonstrative adjectives:

Near the speakerthisthese
Away from the speakerthatthoseyon, yonder

In modern English, only this, that, these, and those are in general use. The singular this and that are used to refer to one noun or pronoun, and the plural these and those are used to refer to two or more nouns or pronouns at a time. This and these refer to nouns and pronouns near the speaker, and that and those are used to refer to nouns and pronouns that are not close to the speaker. Yon and yonder are archaic and not used by most English speakers, although they still appear in older literary works. Yon and yonder are used interchangeably to refer to nouns and pronouns that are not near the speaker.

This piece is the newest addition to the collection.

The demonstrative adjective this modifies the noun piece just like any normal attributive adjective.

Sophia just bought that new car last week.

That modifies the noun car. As with other attributive adjectives, demonstrative adjectives may be separated from the word they modify by other adjectives or adverbs.

Here are a few more examples to of demonstrative adjectives to consider:

  • I don’t like those phones that came out recently.
  • These tests might be too difficult for beginners.
  • Would you hand me that dish?
  • How were those cookies you bought?
  • This movie is my favorite!
  • “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?” – William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II, Line 2.

Finally, take note that this, that, these, and those can also function as demonstrative pronouns. Pay careful attention to how they are being used in a sentence to avoid mislabeling them.

  • This book is my favorite. (adjective)
  • This is my favorite book. (pronoun)
  • That car is really nice. (adjective)
  • That is a really nice car. (pronoun)

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