The words ‘This’ and ‘That’ are among the most commonly used words in the English language. The words can be used in different ways, to mean different things — but at the core, they’re both used as demonstrative pronouns.
This vs That
The difference between This and That is that “This” is used for things that are close and the word “That” is used to refer to distant objects. So while ‘This’ is used to indicate that an object is near, ‘That’ is also used as a demonstrative pronoun but to indicate that an object is far away.
Another way to look at it is, when an object is within your visual range (where you can see it), then the right demonstrative pronoun to use in such an incidence is ‘this’ — however, when an object is far away(where you cannot see), then the most fitting demonstrative pronoun is ‘That’.
Comparison Table Between This and That
|Parameters of Comparison||This||That|
|Part of Speech||Pronoun, determiner, and adverb||Pronoun, Determiner, Conjunction, and Adverb|
|Primary Use||As a demonstrative pronoun for a near object that can be seen||As a demonstrative pronoun for an object that is far away or not within one’s vicinity|
|Introductions||Used in Introductions||Not Used in introductions|
|Relative pronoun||Can never serve as a relative pronoun||Can serve as a relative pronoun|
When to Use This?
The word ‘This’ functions as a trifecta — it’s a pronoun, adverb, and determiner. Its origin dates back to Old English. Although it’s commonly used as a demonstrative pronoun to indicate that a particular object is within your visual range, the word has a series of other uses.
For instance, it’s used in phrases such as ‘this and that,’ as a way to reference various unspecified things in an informal statement.
- The meeting addressed this and that.
- She kept talking about this and that despite me not paying any attention.
To understand how ‘This’ is often used as a demonstrative pronoun, here’s a simple example to reflect on:
- This is her house.
- She’s been hostile to this boy ever since he first set foot in her house.
From the two statements, you can easily tell the subject of discussion is within the visible range. It’s, therefore, safe to say that the people speaking are actually looking at their subject while making the statement.
In the first statement, ‘This’ is used to determine the place of the house. ‘This’ is used to indicate the house is within a close range. In the second statement, ‘This’ is used to specify which boy has been the subject of hostility. It’s also clear the boy is standing close by where everyone can see him.
‘This’ can also be used to introduce someone, particularly on the phone.
- You’re calling our head office. This is John speaking.
In this sentence, John is using ‘This’ to introduce himself.
When to Use That?
‘That’ also boasts a series of different uses. It serves as a pronoun, adverb, conjunction, and determiner.
‘That’ as a Relative Pronoun
‘That’ can also serve as a relative pronoun connecting two clauses. In this case, you’re allowed to substitute it by ‘which’ or ‘who’ depending on the context.
Examples in a sentence:
That = which
- He bought the sweets that the old woman was selling.
- He bought the sweets which the old woman was selling.
That = who
- The president asked to have a word with the minister that was recently vindicated for hate speech.
- The president asked to have a word with the minister who was recently vindicated for hate speech.
‘That’ as an Object
That can also be used in sentence clauses to act as the object.
Examples in a sentence:
- The teacher made it clear that she won’t be accepting any late submission.
- Her mum reminded her that she was to come home early.
- The principle made it clear that all teachers report to work early.
‘That’ as a Subject Clause
A clause is used to introduce a phrase that will be acting as a sentence subject. The use of ‘That’ as a subject is formal. It’s therefore not common in informal speeches.
- That Mary feels neglected beats the whole purpose of being adopted.
- That he chose you over her is so sad.
- That he finds him intolerable makes you want to ask him how tolerable he is himself.
‘The Fact that’
‘The fact that’ is a common phrase that people use to introduce a statement. It can also be substituted with ‘that’ only and it will still be grammatically correct.
- The fact that he chose her over you shows that he myopic in life.
- That he chose her over you shows that he’s myopic in life.
- The fact that some people are still languishing in poverty shows that we have poor leadership.
- That some people still languish in poverty shows that we have poor leadership.
- The fact that he didn’t fail in his last exam shows that he’s been studying hard.
- That he didn’t fail in his last exam shows that he’s been studying hard.
Main Differences Between ‘This’ and ‘That’
1) The most distinctive difference between ‘this’ and ‘that’ is that while ‘this’ is used to indicate objects that are closer by, that is used to point out to objects that are far away or not within one’s vicinity.
2) Also worth noting is that both ‘this’ and ‘that’ can also serve as adjectives, where they specify which object is under discussion.
3) Examples in a sentence:
- The car belongs to that woman.
- The cat ate from this plate.
In both of these sentences, ‘this’ and ‘that’ are used as adjectives. They’re adding detail as to the specifics of the noun under discussion.
The word this can also be used to affirm.
- This feels right.
4) The two words can also be used together in the expression ‘this and that’ to means ‘various unspecified things’
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) About This and That
1) How do You Use This and That?
This and That are specifically used for things and not for living beings. When the distance is less and the thing is in arm’s length then This is used and if the thing is away then That is used.
2) Where do We Use This and That?
A classic example of using This is when you are holding a thing in your hand you want to show it to someone. You would say like “This pen is so smooth on the paper.”.
When you are not holding or standing too close to the object then you should use That. For example, “That blue colored car looks great.”
As you can see, you ought to be careful while using the two words in a sentence. Use them interchangeably and you risk throwing your readers off or sounding grammatically incorrect.
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