Friday, September 16, 2011

A bit of this and that (and these and those)

This and that and their plurals these and those can be demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative determiners. This and that can also be adverbs, and that can also be a relative pronoun and a conjunction.
Perfect your understanding and use of these useful little words with these exercises

Word classes (parts of speech)

demonstrative pronounthis, that,
these, those
stands on its own to represent a noun
relative pronounthatintroduces a defining relative clause
demonstrative determinerthis, that,
these, those
comes before a noun
adverbthis, thatsays to what extent
conjunctionthatintroduces a that-clause
Note 1 - Demonstrative determiner is a relatively new term and you will often see these referred to as demonstrative adjectives. But as this and that have more in common with the and which than with green and heavy, this time I think the modernists have got it right. Determiners reference, but they do not describe in the way that adjectives do.
Note 2 - You probably don't really need to go into the details of when this and that are pronouns or determiners etc. The important thing is to know how to use them. So if you don't like this aspect of grammar you can skip this exercise. But if you are one of those who likes to have everything neatly classisfied, this is for you.
Click and Drop - Where you see this sign, mouse over for instructions

Exercise 1 - Decide which word class (part of speech) each use of that is. There is one of each in the first five questions about the dog, and two of each in the remaining ten.

1.What's that? - It's a dog bite. I got it last week.  
2.There's the dog that bit me last week.  
3.That dog bit me last week.  
4.It didn't bite me that hard really.  
5.But the fact is that it bit me, all the same.  
6.Another ten kilometres? I didn't realise it was that far!  
7.Who on earth was that? - That was my father-in-law.  
8.You seem to know a lot of people here - Oh, not that many.  
9.This is the house that Jack built (nursery rhyme).  
10.Look at that man over there. What's he doing?  
11.I never said that! What I said was ... .  
12.He said that he might be late.  
13.Watch out for that cyclist!  
14.This is the man that sold us the car.  
15.He was so tired that he went straight to bed.  

This, that, these and those as demonstratives (both pronouns and determiners)

The basic principal is this:
  • this, these refer to 'here and now'
  • that, those refer to 'there and then'
In other words, we use this and these for things which are near to us in space and time, and that and those for the things which are more distant in space and time.

Exercise 2a - Complete the sentences with words from the box.

this   ·   that   ·   these   ·   those
1. tiramisú is delicious; did you make it yourself?
2. meal you cooked last night was wonderful.
3.Can I have some of oranges at the front, please?
4.They look bigger than ones at the back.
5.Remember when we were at university. were the days, weren't they?
6.I used to be quite slim, but days I seem to be putting on a bit of weight.
7.Who was you were talking to just then?
8.Mandy, I'd like you to meet Craig. Mandy, is Craig.
9.Look at people over there. What on earth are they doing?
10.Come and look at puppies in the window. Aren't they sweet?
11.There's a popular current affairs programme on TV called ' week'.
12.' was the week that was' was the name of a famous satire show on TV.
13. is a very nice smell coming from the kitchen. What's for lunch?
14.Come and look at . It's a holiday brochure for the Canary Isles.
15.Will you just look at . It's raining again. And just as we were about to go out.

Exercise 2b - Complete the sentences with words from the box.

this   ·   that   ·   these   ·   those
1.(On the phone) Hi, is Jenny. Is Pete? Hi Pete, how's things?
2.Look out there, it's raining again. The weather in country is awful.
3.(Sniffing) Mmmm. flowers smell gorgeous. I'll go and put them in vase over there.
4.Whatever happened to girl you used to go out with? Iris, wasn't it?
5.You will? has to be the happiest day of my life!
6.Mummy, Daddy. is the girl I'm going to marry. Sally, Mummy and Daddy.
7.(In a shop) Anything else? - No, is all thanks. No, wait a minute I'll have some of sweets here. - So, with the sweets, will be £4.50 all together.
8.Come and listen to on the radio. It's about strikes last week in Noddyland, where we were. I'm never going back to country again.
9.And is all you've got for supper? These sausages and a few potatoes?
10.Well, was some day I had at work today. How was yours?
11. is it. The last report is finished and I can go home now.
12.... and the only free space was at my table. So was how we met.

More on demonstratives

We also use demonstratives in other ways:
Sometimes we use this/these to show approval, and that/those to show diapproval
In a more formal style that and those are also used for the one or the ones.
We use this in a more informal style when story-telling
We use that/those to talk about experiences we think everyone is familiar with. This happens a lot in advertisements.
See if you can spot these various uses in the next exercise.

Exercise 3 - Complete the sentences with words from the box.

this   ·   that   ·   these   ·   those
1.Now tell me all about new job of yours. It sounds absolutely fascinating.
2.I wouldn't exactly compare his manners to of an angel!
3.Do you know what music is they use at the beginning of the show?
4.I don't think much of dress you're wearing. It doesn't suit you at all.
5.For special woman in your life - Mona Lisa Liqueur Chocolates.
6.You've lost lovin' feelin' (The Righteous Brothers)
7.They're not very friendly, new neighbours of ours, are they?
8.Well now, there was beautiful Princess who lived in a tower.
9.His appetite is like of a horse.
10.I do like new Cossack boots you've got on. They look very elegant.
11.'Just the dress to wear for warm summer evenings.'
12.(Hero in swashbuckling movie) Take , you dastardly fellow!

Demonstrative this and that to refer to people.

We can only sometimes use this, that, these and those when referring to people
  • We can use them as determiners in front of nouns:
    • This woman in the front of the photo is my aunt.
    • That man over there is staring at us.
    • These people are talking very loudly!
    • Those boys are behaving very badly.
  • We can use those, meaning 'those people' instead of 'anybody', but it must be followed by a defining relative clause. This is often reduced.
    • Those who want to go on the trip to Villa Adriana need to book now.
    • Could those needing a visa please let me know.
  • We can refer to people after this is etc, when specifying who someone is or introducing someone:
    • Have you met my mother? Mum, this is Peter.
    • Who is that standing next to you sister? - Oh, that's John, her boyfriend.
    • No, these aren't my grandparents. They're my great-uncle and aunt.
    • Those must be your cousins.
  • We can refer to people after this is etc, when followed by a nominative relative clause starting with who:
    • Mary, this is Peter. This is who I was talking to you about earlier.
    • Oh, there's Paul. That's who she's going out with now.
    • This is not used very much with these and those.
  • We can also refer to people after this is etc, when making a comment about them:
    • This is one of the friendliest people I know.
    • That's an incredibly tall man over there, the one by the entrance.
    • These are some of the most intelligent people in the world.
    • Those are very well-behaved childen you have there.
    • In this use, this and these seem to be more often used with one of, some of plus a superlative.
  • Note - Apart from these constructions with be we don't use them as pronouns except when we're being very rude, when they are stressed. It's a bit like comparing someone to a thing or animal!
    • You mean she's marrying that!
    • I wouldn't recommend using that in this way!

This and that as adverbs

The adverbs this and that can be used in informal English before adjectives and other adverbs with a meaning similar to so or as ... as this/that. We usually use this when we are showing something, or talking about things here and now. We tend to use that when we mean very
We can use not all that before an adjective or adverb to mean not very.
Before a clause in standard English we use so rather than that. But in very informal English you might hear something like: 'I was that parched, I could've drunk the whole barrel'

Exercise 4 - Complete the sentences with words from the box.

that   ·   this
1.(Showing thumb and forefinger) I came close to hitting him.
2.Did he hit you hard? - Not all hard, really.
3.I didn't imagine it would be cold! It's minus 23 outside.
4.If she's much of an athlete, how come she's out of breath already?
5.Come on, we've come far, we can't turn back now.
6.(Spreading his arms) And the fish I caught was big, but I threw it back of course.
7.If I had known it was far I would've taken a taken a bus, rather than walked. It took me two hours!
8.I'm on Chapter 10 already. I didn't think I'd get far so quickly.
9.If it carries on snowing much we'll be able to go skiing tomorrow.
10.The boss is not bad really, once you get to know her.
11.We don't have to work hard. Just a few hours a day.
12.If I'd known we had to work hard I wouldn't have come on this course.

The relative pronoun that

Remember that that is only used in defining (restrictive) relative clauses, optionally replacing who or which
Usage note - You might come across 'experts' on the Internet who say that that should always be used for things in defining relative clauses, and some who say that who should always be used for people in defining relative clauses. Sometimes, but not always, these are the same people.
As far as EFL/ESL and the majority of linguists are concerned, who and that are equally valid for people, and which or that for things. And great writers such as Jane Austen, just like the rest of us, have used them seemingly interchangeably.
Apart from the comparison below, I won't deal with this any further on this post, as it is best treated when talking about relative clauses.

The conjunction that to introduce a that-clause

This is used after certain verbs (especially reporting verbs), adjectives and nouns (and gerunds) to introduce a subordinate clause. In informal English it is often missed out.
  • She said (that) she would probably be late.
  • It is very important (that) you attend this meeting.
  • Knowing (that) you are a vegetarian, we've prepared a nut roast.
I think I'll deal with these that-clauses in a separate post sometime. But see the comparison below.

Relative clause or that-clause?

After a noun, that can inroduce both a relative clauses and a that-clause, and these can look fairly similar. Remember that a relative clause tells us something about the preceding noun, and the that can often be replaced with which.
A that-clause, on the other hand, is more concerned with what happened, and although the that cannot be replaced with which, it can usually be left out.

Exercise 5 - Decide whether that in these sentences introduces a relative clause or a that-clause.

1.She gave him an explanation that was difficult to criticise.
2.She gave him some explanation that she had been too busy.
3.It was the evidence that he had lied I found so convincing.
4.It was the evidence that was needed to finally convince him.
5.This was the idea that really appealed to me most.
6.It was the idea that we should just give up I found so unappealing.

A bit of music trivia apropos of nothing in particular except my mention of The Righteous Brothers.

In the fifties and sixties British cover versions (copies) were often made of American hits, especially of Rock 'n' Roll. These were often softer and more 'poppy' than the American originals.
In 1963, Dionne Warwick had a top ten hit in the US with Anyone who had a heart, which was duly covered by British artist Cilla Black, who had a Number One hit with it. Personally, I much preferred the Dionne Warwick version, but I seem to remember reading at the time that it was considered too 'souly' for the British market.
A year later they tried to do the same thing with 'You've lost that lovin' feelin'. Again the original, sung by the Righteous Brothers and produced by the legendary Phil Spector, was considered to be too 'raw' for British audiences, and Cilla Black again made a cover version. But this time we record buyers weren't to be palmed off with a smoother second best, and there followed one of the most exciting races in British chart history.
Cilla Black started well, coming in at No.28, to the Righteous Brothers' No.35. The next week Black was at No.12 and the brothers at No.20. But while the following week Black moved up ten places to No.2, the brothers jumped seventeen places to No.3, reaching No.1 two weeks later, and staying there while Black's version started its slow decline. Ah, what sweet revenge that was for those of us who preferred the originals!
And as far as I'm aware, nobody bothered making British cover versions of American records again. On the other hand, they didn't need to, as America was about to experience the 'British invasion'. And ironically the heroes of those invading British bands were black American R 'n' B artists who had been too raw even for American white audiences.


I've drawn quite heavily on Practical English Usage by Michael Swan (Oxford)



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