This or That? A quick guide to talking about objects and events.



The words this and that appear in most languages, especially in Europe. This and that are:

Questo et quello in Italian, ceci et cela in French and esto y aquello in Spanish.

These two words are also in the top 30 most used words in English, so it is a good idea to learn how to use them!

The easiest way of using this and that is to talk about objects that are near or far. This for objects that are near and that for objects that are more distant.


But first, we are going to discover some situations where this and that are very useful.



1. Let’s start with an easy example - Shopping!

You will definitely use this or that to talk about things you want to buy.

For example – you have a choice of two jackets. The salesperson asks "Which one do you prefer?"

If you like the one close to you (nearby) you can say:

“I prefer this one.”

But if you like the jacket in the shop window you could say:

“I think I prefer that one”.



2. Things you can see

Let's look at the same sentence with this first, then with that. Can you see how the meaning changes in the following examples?

I love this house – the house you are standing in or living in or the house you are looking at in a brochure.

I love that house – the house you can see on a hill in the distance.


This car is really beautiful – the car next to you or near to you. That car is really beautiful – the car you see drive past on the street.


My brother would love this horse – the horse next to you or near you. My brother would love that horse – the horse you can see in a field or in on TV.



3. Time

When we use this and that as demonstrative pronouns, it shows if something is near or far in time. The word this is often used to talk about something happening here and now. The word that is often used to talk about a past event.

Some examples are: This is delicious – this food here and now. I love this – this object or event here and now.

That was the best holiday – the holiday you had in the past.

Do you remember that kid from school? – the kid you went to school with.


4. To connect to parts of a sentence

When you use the word that to connect two parts of a sentence, it is called a relative pronoun. For example:

The book that I read last summer.

The car that I saw this morning was beautiful.

The woman that came to the office last week.

Did you notice? All of these examples are in the past, so now we know how to use ‘that’ to talk about an object or subject in the past.


5. Idioms

Finally, this and that are used in phrases or idioms. For example:

This and that

“I haven’t seen you for months, what have you been doing?”

“Just this and that.” (I have been doing a few different things).


...and all that

“What are you reading?”

“It’s a book for my science exam, biology and all that.” (I’m studying biology and other science topics). We use and all that after one example, to say 'and the rest'.


Finally, check out the video below for how to pronounce this and that!


Did you know that we have an English Voice taster at each level, absolutely free? Just sign up to the website to access this amazing free content and try before you buy!

We hope you have enjoyed this blog. As always, you will progress more by reading, listening and practising your English so make sure you check out IQ Global for free resources and our YouTube channel. See you next time!


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