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How to Teach Demonstrative Pronouns (With Examples)

Learning how to teach demonstrative pronouns is essential for any English educator aiming to improve their students’ grammatical accuracy and fluency.

This fundamental concept, which involves pronouns used to point out specific things or people, is key to forming clear and concise sentences and expressing ideas effectively.

Through straightforward explanations, relevant examples, and interactive classroom activities, teachers can effectively demonstrate the uses and significance of demonstrative pronouns.

Understanding when and how to use demonstrative pronouns helps students construct sentences more precisely and enhances their overall communication skills in English.

View all of our  Pronoun Worksheets

What are Demonstrative Pronouns?

The four demonstrative pronouns in English—this, that, these, and those—are used to emphasize items mentioned earlier or obvious from the context.

Demonstrative pronouns serve to “demonstrate” or highlight something specific, akin to verbally pointing out an object or person. They effectively draw focus to the item or individual being discussed.

Furthermore, demonstrative pronouns specify the number (singular or plural) and the relative proximity (near or far) of the object or person in question.

For better clarity, here are some examples of Demonstrative Pronouns that are used in sentences:

Near Far
Singular This is my favorite book. That jacket seems very expensive.
Plural These are the keys you were looking for. Those were the days I truly miss.

Teaching Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are an important grammatical category in English, used to point to specific things or people.

These pronouns are crucial for clarity in speech and writing, as they help specify the objects or subjects being referred to in a conversation or text.

There are four things that need to be considered when using demonstrative nouns. Here’s a more detailed explanation of each:

Demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative determiners (also known as demonstrative adjectives)

Demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative determiners (often called demonstrative adjectives) in English use the same words—this, that, these, and those—for both grammatical functions. Collectively, these words are known as demonstratives.

A demonstrative pronoun takes the place of a noun and functions independently as either the subject or object of a sentence.

On the other hand, a demonstrative determiner serves as a modifier that precedes a noun, providing specific information about it.

Here are some examples:

Demonstrative Pronouns

How to Teach Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative Determiners

How to Teach Demonstrative Pronouns

Proximal (near) and Distal (far) Demonstratives

Demonstratives, which include both pronouns and determiners, serve to specify the relative distance of an object or person from the speaker or writer.

This” (singular) and “these” (plural) are proximal demonstratives used to refer to someone or something in close proximity to the speaker. “That” (singular) and “those” (plural) are distal demonstratives used to point out someone or something that is further away from the speaker.

Here’s a visual sample:

Proximal demonstrative pronouns:

How to Teach Demonstrative Pronouns

Distal demonstrative pronouns:

How to Teach Demonstrative Pronouns

 

This distinction can apply to actual physical distance, such as differentiating between two objects, people, or places in terms of how near or far they are from the person speaking or writing.

Furthermore, it can also refer to temporal (time) distance, such as when differentiating between events in the past or future relative to the present.

Here’s an example:

Additionally, demonstratives can signify a more abstract or metaphorical distance, such as referencing something previously mentioned or alluding to an idea, concept, or event.

Here are some examples:

Antecedent demonstrative pronouns

The antecedent of a pronoun is the noun or phrase to which the pronoun refers. Typically, the antecedent precedes the pronoun, appearing earlier in the sentence or in a previous sentence.

However, it can also follow the pronoun, especially in more complex constructions.

Here are some examples:

Demonstrative pronouns do not always require explicitly named antecedents, as their reference can often be understood from the context.

When the context makes the implied antecedent clear, there typically isn’t an issue with clarity or understanding.

Here are some examples:

In situations where the context is known, these sentences would be clearly understood despite the antecedents not being explicitly stated in the sentences themselves.

Without such context, however, the meaning may remain ambiguous.

Ambiguous antecedents

When the antecedent of a demonstrative pronoun is unclear, even within context, it can lead to confusion, particularly in formal or academic writing.

It’s crucial to ensure the antecedent is explicitly defined, either by including the specific noun phrase being referred to, or by restructuring the sentence to eliminate ambiguity.

Here are some examples to illustrate how to clarify antecedents in complex sentences:

Each revised sentence ensures that the reference made by “this” is clear and directly tied to a specific concept, reducing ambiguity and improving the clarity of the communication.

Demonstratives and relative pronouns

While “that” serves both as a demonstrative and a relative pronoun, other demonstratives like “this,” “these,” and “those” do not function as relative pronouns.

A relative pronoun is specifically used to introduce relative clauses, which add more information about a noun mentioned previously in the sentence.

Example of “That” as a Relative Pronoun:

In contrast, “this,” “these,” and “those” strictly serve as demonstratives, pointing out specific items or entities in terms of proximity or distinction but not introducing relative clauses.

Exercises for teaching Demonstrative Pronouns

Exercise 1: Matching type

Instructions: Match the sentences in Column A with the correct demonstrative pronouns in Column B.
Column A Column B
1. _______ are the cookies I made yesterday. A. This
2. _______ is the story I told you about.
3. _______ was the best concert I have ever attended. B. That
4. _______ shoes are too tight.
5. _______ is my favorite movie of all time. C. These
6. Do you see _______ car over there?
7. I can’t believe _______ happened to us! D. Those
8. _______ books need to be returned to the library.
9. Can you believe _______ weather we’re having?
10. _______ are the friends I grew up with.
Answer key (for teachers):
1. C – These are the cookies I made yesterday.
2. A – This is the story I told you about.
3. B – That was the best concert I have ever attended.
4. D – Those shoes are too tight.
5. A – This is my favorite movie of all time.
6. B – Do you see that car over there?
7. B – I can’t believe that happened to us!
8. D – Those books need to be returned to the library.
9. A – Can you believe this weather we’re having?
10. C – These are the friends I grew up with.

Exercise 2: Fill in the blanks

Instructions: Fill in the blanks with the correct demonstrative pronouns: “this,” “that,” “these,” or “those.”
1. Look at _______ beautiful painting on the wall.
2. I don’t think I’ve read _______ book you’re holding.
3. Can you move _______ boxes to the storage room?
4. Why are _______ shoes outside?
5. _______ is the kind of opportunity I was hoping for.
6. Do you remember _______ day we spent at the beach?
7. _______ apples are rotten, but _______ ones are still fresh.
8. Who owns _______ car parked in front of the house?
9. _______ are the days when I felt completely free.
10. I need to decide if _______ plan is the right one.
Answer key (for teachers):
1. Look at this beautiful painting on the wall.
2. I don’t think I’ve read that book you’re holding.
3. Can you move those boxes to the storage room?
4. Why are these shoes outside?
5. This is the kind of opportunity I was hoping for.
6. Do you remember that day we spent at the beach?
7. These apples are rotten, but those ones are still fresh.
8. Who owns that car parked in front of the house?
9. Those are the days when I felt completely free.
10. I need to decide if this plan is the right one.

Final Thoughts on How to Teach Demonstrative Pronouns to Your Students

Mastering how to teach demonstrative pronouns effectively requires clear explanations, practical examples, and engaging activities that reinforce these concepts. By incorporating real-life scenarios and interactive exercises into lessons, educators can help students understand the usage of demonstrative pronouns, which identify and specify objects or people in terms of proximity and number.

Mastering demonstrative pronouns enhances students’ grammatical precision and communication skills. Ultimately, a solid grasp of demonstrative pronouns is crucial for students to construct accurate and clear sentences, boosting their confidence in navigating the complexities of the English language.

Embracing platforms like EnglishLearningByPro, which offers readily available and adaptable materials, allows teachers to personalize their teaching strategies according to each student’s unique needs. The ultimate goal is to empower students to easily master the use of verbs, enhancing their communication skills in the English language.

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John Bart
Author: John Bart

I am the co-owner of englishlearningbypro.com, a community built specifically for English teachers around the world trying to make a living teaching English. I have lived in Brazil for four years and had previously taught private English classes for three years. I am passionate about helping others, and making English teaching and learning easier.

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