Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrating the Uses of Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns demonstrate or point out a noun antecedentOpens in new window— a specific person or thing referred to, as below:

For Example:
  • This cake is well baked.
  • That was a memorable experience.

The commonest demonstrative pronouns are, the singular forms: this, that; and the plural forms: these, those. Others include: such, yonder, so, some, one, ones, none.

What does Demonstrating means?

Demonstrating means to show clearly or point out something.

For Example:
  • These are flimsy excuses.
  • Such is one of the mysteries of life.
  • Yonder is where we sail.
  • That is the deputy’s office.
  • Ratnagiri mangoes are better than those of Uttar Pradesh’s.
  • Both skaters gave good performance; but this Caucasian’s is masterpiece than those.

This usually indicates something nearer to the speaker, while that indicates something farther away.

This and that are also used in contrast to each other.

For Example:
  • This is my notebook, but that is Lola’s notebook.

The antecedentOpens in new window of a demonstrative pronoun is often omitted or may be understood from the context.

For Example:
  • Which paintings do you like best? These are brilliant, but I think those are the most brilliant.
  • I wish you would not do that.

When you make use of demonstrative pronouns in your writing, it is important you ensure that the antecedentsOpens in new window are clear. A deviation from this can cause demonstrative pronouns to become vague and meaningless.

Consider this sentence:
  • We are going to a movie after we finish our homework. That will be fun.
  • (what will be fun? Going to a movie, or finishing our homework?)

Note that demonstrative pronouns, especially this/these and that/those, can be used as demonstrative adjectivesOpens in new window

Do not confuse demonstrative pronouns with demonstrative adjectives.Opens in new window

They are identical, but a demonstrative pronoun stands independently and represents a noun, while a demonstrative adjective usually stands next to a noun and modifies the noun.
  1. Demonstrative Pronoun (DP)
    • This is my notebook.
      (This refers to the notebook. Hence it is DP.)
    Demonstrative Adjective (DA)
    • This notebook is useful.
      (This qualifies the noun notebook. Hence it is DA.)
  2. Demonstrative Pronoun (DP)
    • He was a rogue. Such was her opinion before meeting him.
      (Here, such means “that”, hence it is DP.)
    Demonstrative Adjective (DA)
    • Such persons should be punished(DA)
  3. Demonstrative Pronoun (DP)
    • These are my bags.
    Demonstrative Adjective (DA)
    • Those bags are mine.

Using “One”, “Ones” and “So”

Consider these sentences:
  • My friend gave me a novel. That was a very good one.
  • There were so many shirts in the shop. I bought three cotton ones.

In these sentences, one and ones stands for the noun ‘novel’ and ‘shirts’ respectively. Hence, they are demonstrative pronouns.


Note that the pronoun one can be substituted for a noun or a noun phrase. The plural of one is ones.

Observe these constructions:
  • Have you got pencils? I need one.
    (Here, one = a pencil)
  • Do you sell mangoes? Give me a few ripe ones.
    (Here, ones = mangoes)

Note also that one cannot be substituted for mass (uncountable) nouns. Instead, they are omitted. We can omit both count and mass nouns. But, count nouns cannot be omitted after the indefinite article a or an.

  • I like the white shirt more than the black (one).
    (Here, one is optional.)
  • I like a white shirt more than a black one
    (Here, one cannot be omitted because of the presence of a.

Note that when so is used after the verbs to think, to tell, to hope, to suppose, to believe, to say, to be afraid, etc., it refers to the whole preceding sentence or clause. Consider the following sentences:

  • Will he pass the exam? I think so. (so = he will pass)
  • He is straightforward and honest as I guessed. I told you so.
  • His injury seems fatal. I am afraid so.
  • She will survive this difficult situation. I hope so.
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