This vs. That: What’s the Difference?

Grasping the distinction between “this” and “that” is crucial for precise and impactful communication in English. These terms may appear straightforward, yet they hold important connotations regarding proximity and particularity in both spoken and written contexts. “This” is generally employed to denote an object or idea that is close to the speaker, either in terms of physical closeness or in the realm of thought. Conversely, “that” is used to point to an item or concept that is at a greater distance, either spatially or temporally.

The Main Difference between This and That

This vs. That: What's the Difference? Pin

This vs. That: Key Takeaways

  • “This” refers to something close to the speaker, while “that” indicates distance.
  • Correct use of “this” and “that” clarifies communication and specifies references.
  • Mastery of these terms is crucial for preventing confusion in conversation and writing.

This vs. That: the Definition

What Does This Mean?

“This” refers to someone or something that is physically close to the speaker. When we talk about an object that we can reach out and touch, or an idea that is immediately relevant to our situation, we use “this.” For example, in the sentence “This book is my favorite,” we imply that the book is near us.

What Does That Mean?

Conversely, “that” points to someone or something that is typically farther away from the speaker in distance or less immediate in the conversational context. When we refer to an object across the room or bring up a topic from earlier in our conversation, we use “that.” As an illustration, saying “That car over there is mine” suggests the car is not nearby.

This vs. That: Usage and Examples

We often use this and that as demonstrative pronouns to indicate specific things, but there’s a subtle difference that can change the meaning of our sentences. Here’s a simple rule to remember the difference:

  • This is used to point to something physically or conceptually close to the speaker.
  • That is used to point to something further away in distance or time.

Proximity in Space and Time

When we talk about things close to us, we use this:

  • This book in my hands is fascinating.
  • Can you hand me this wrench from the toolbox?

For things that are not physically near, we use that:

  • See that car across the street? It’s an antique.
  • I miss that summer we spent abroad.

Singular and Plural Forms

This and that have plural forms:

  • These cats (near) vs. those cats (far)
  • These are our current challenges, whereas those were our past struggles.

Here are examples of how we can use these words in everyday conversations or writing:

Scenario Usage with “This” Usage with “That”
Objects near us “Could you pass me this salt shaker?” “Could you pass me that salt shaker, near the stove?”
Events about to happen This weekend we’re going camping.” That weekend we got caught in the rain was memorable.”
Referring to ideas This idea of yours is groundbreaking.” “The idea that you proposed yesterday intrigued me.”

Tips to Remember the Difference

  • This: We use “this” to refer to someone or something near us in space or time.
  • That: Conversely, “that” is used to indicate someone or something that is farther away in space or time.

This vs. That: Examples

Example of This

  • This book on the table is my favorite novel.
  • Can you hand me this pen right here?
  • I’ve never heard this song before; it’s catchy!
  • This is the moment we’ve all been waiting for.
  • Look at this picture I took yesterday; isn’t it beautiful?

Example of That

  • That restaurant across the street makes the best pizza.
  • I don’t think that jacket you saw will fit me.
  • Did you see that bird fly by the window just now?
  • That was a great movie we saw last weekend.
  • I’m not sure I agree with that opinion you mentioned.

Related Confused Words with This or That

This vs. These

This refers to a singular noun that is close to the speaker in time or space.

  • For example, we say “This is a great book” when the book is in our hands.

These is the plural form of “this,” used when referring to multiple items near us.

  • For instance, we say “These books are on sale” when pointing to a collection of books nearby.

This vs. Thus

  • This indicates a singular object or concept, as in “This option is the best.”
  • Thus is an adverb meaning “as a result” or “in this way.” We use it to show the result of an action, like “He did not study, and thus he failed the exam.”

That vs. Than

That is a demonstrative pronoun used for indicating a specific item farther from the speaker, such as in “That idea sounds good.”

Than is used in comparisons.

  • For example, we say “Our results are better than last year’s” to compare the current results with those of the previous year.

That vs. Thatch

  • That can function as a pronoun or conjunction, e.g., “I believe that she will succeed.”
  • Thatch is a noun referring to a roofing material made from straw or reeds, as in “The cottage had a thatch roof.”

By differentiating these words and using them properly, we can make our communication clearer and more precise.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should ‘this’ be used instead of ‘that’ in a sentence?

‘This’ refers to a singular noun that is close to the speaker, both physically or in terms of time, while ‘that’ refers to a singular noun that is farther away in distance or time.

Can you give me some examples to illustrate the difference between ‘this’ and ‘these’?

Certainly! ‘This’ is used for a single item that is nearby (“This book is interesting”), whereas ‘these’ is for multiple items that are close to the speaker (“These books are interesting”).

What are the rules for using ‘these’ versus ‘those’?

Use ‘these’ for plural items that are near to us, like “These cookies are delicious,” and ‘those’ for plural items that are not near, for example, “Those mountains in the distance are breathtaking.”

Could you explain how ‘this’ and ‘that’ are used with examples?

Of course! Use ‘this’ to mention a nearby subject (“This is a great song”), and ‘that’ for something not immediately present (“That was a great concert we attended last year”).

In what contexts do we use ‘this’ and ‘that’ in English grammar?

We use ‘this’ and ‘that’ as demonstratives to indicate a specific noun’s proximity to the speaker. ‘This’ for something close, and ‘that’ for something further away.

How can I determine the correct usage between ‘this’ and ‘that’?

To decide whether to use ‘this’ or ‘that’, consider if the object or concept you are referring to is near you in time or space (use ‘this’) or farther away (use ‘that’).