This and that are determiners or pronouns. The plural form of this is these. The plural form of that is those.
This entry deals with the similarities and differences between the ways in which these words are used.
This, these, that, and those are all used for referring to people, things, or events that have already been mentioned. It is more common to use this and these than that and those.
New machines are more expensive and this is something one has to consider.
So, for all these reasons, my advice is to be very, very careful.
You use that or those when you are referring to something for the second time in a sentence, using the same noun.
I know that what I say to a person is seldom what that person hears.
Students suggest books for the library, and normally we're quite happy to get those books.
You usually use that, rather than ‘this’, to refer to a statement that someone has just made.
‘She was terribly afraid of offending anyone.’ – ‘That’s right.'
‘That’s a good point,' he said in response to my question.
present and past
You can use this or that to talk about events or situations.
You use this to refer to a situation that is continuing to exist, or to an event that is continuing to take place.
‘My God,’ I said, ‘This is awful.’
This whole business has gone on too long.
You use that to refer to an event or situation that has taken place recently.
I knew that meeting would be difficult.
That was a terrible air crash last week.
You use this or these to refer to people or things that are very near to you. For example, you use this to refer to an object you are holding in your hand, or something on a desk or table in front of you.
‘What is this?’ she said, picking up the parcel on my desk.
Wait a minute. I just have to sort these books out.
You use that or those to refer to people or things that you can see or hear, but that are not very near to you, so that, for example, you cannot put out your hand and touch them.
Look at that bird!
Can you move those boots off there?
When you are comparing two things and one of them is nearer to you than the other, you can use this to refer to the one that is nearer and that to refer to the one that is further away.
This one's nice but I don't like that one much.
This and these are used in different ways when you are referring to people, things, situations, events, or periods of time. They can both be determiners or pronouns. These is the plural form of this.
You can use this or these to refer to people, things, or events that have just been mentioned.
He's from the Institute of English Language in Bangkok. This institute has been set up to serve language teachers in the area.
Tax increases may be needed next year to do this.
These particular students are extremely bright.
Don't use ‘this’ as a pronoun to refer to a person who has just been mentioned. Instead you use he or she.
He was known to everyone as Eddie.
‘Bye,’ Mary said as she drove away.
In conversation, many people use this and these as determiners even when they are mentioning people or things for the first time.
Then this guy came to the door of the class and he said, ‘Mary, you’re wanted out here in the hall.'
At school we had to wear these awful white cotton hats.
You can use this or these to refer to people or things that are very near to you. For example, if you are holding a book, you refer to it as ‘this book’.
The colonel handed him the bag. ‘This is for you,’ he said.
Get these kids out of here.
‘This’ is not usually used as a pronoun to refer to a person. You only use it when you are identifying someone or asking them about their identity. For example, you use this when you are introducing someone. Note that when you are introducing more than one person, you use this, not ‘these’.
This is Bernadette, Mr Zapp.
This is my brother Andrew and his wife Claire.
You also use this to say who you are when you phone someone.
Sally? This is Martin Brody.
You can use this to refer to a situation that exists now or to an event that is happening now.
You know a lot about this situation.
‘this’ and ‘these’ in time expressions
This is used in the following ways in time expressions:
You use it with morning, afternoon, or evening to refer to the morning, afternoon, or evening of the present day.
I was here this afternoon. Have you forgotten?
However, don't say ‘this day’. You say today.
I had a letter today from my solicitor.
Also, don't say ‘this night’. You refer to the previous night as last night. You refer to the night of the present day as tonight.
We left our bedroom window open last night.
I think I'll go to bed early tonight.
This week, month, or year means the present week, month, or year.
They're talking about going on strike this week.
You usually use this with weekend or with the name of a day, month, or season to refer to the next weekend or to the next day, month, or season with that name.
Come down there with me this weekend.
Let's fix a time. This Sunday. Four o'clock.
However, you can also use this with one of these words to refer to the previous weekend, or the previous day, month, or season with that name.
This summer they spent £15 million on emergency shelters for the homeless.
These days means ‘at the present time’.
The prices these days are absolutely ridiculous.
‘that’ and ‘those’
That and those are used in some similar ways to this and these.