An ELT Glossary : Demonstratives



  • A word which specifies whether something is close (proximal) or distant (distal). The demonstratives are this/these (proximal demonstratives) and that/those (distal demonstratives). They may be pronouns or determiners.
  • Demonstrative determiners precede a noun :  Look at that horse/those horses!
  • Demonstrative pronouns replace a noun : Look at this/these!
  • Demonstratives may be used to refer to "things" in the field of vision as in the examples above (exophoric reference), but also create  cohesive ties within the text, eg the anaphoric reference in  :  They differed radically in their political views and these differences often resulted in heated argument.
  •  Whether a distal or proximal demonstrative is chosen may depend more on the speaker's perception than the actual distance involved. Eg, standing in the middle of a library the speaker might choose to say either look at all these books! or Look at all those books! depending on their interpretation of whether the books are in the "same place" as them (ie in the library) or in a different place  (ie on the shelves).