Demonstrative words show which person or thing is being referred to.

They specify an entity in terms of the distance (real or metaphorical) from the speaker (e.g. this week, those books)

Examples of demonstratives in English include this, that, these, those.

There is a distinction between demonstrative adjectives, which modify nouns, and demonstrative pronouns, which replace nouns

  • These pretzels are making me thirsty (demonstrative adjective)
  • I don’t like this book (demonstrative adjective)
  • That smells delicious (demonstrative pronoun)
  • Those are my favourites (demonstrative pronoun)

Australian Aboriginal languages make finer distinctions in demonstratives than English does. They generally express distances in space and time, and may indicate things such as

  • distance from the speaker or hearer
    • here, close by
    • here, a little further
    • there, close by
    • there, some distance
    • there, out of sight
    • there, a long way away
  • place in discourse
    • that mentioned just now
    • that mentioned before
  • assumptions about the hearer’s attention
    • the one being pointed to
    • the one just mentioned
    • the one you know is being referred to

Demonstratives may be marked for person and number

  • Demonstrative pronouns might have an object form in your language.
  • Demonstratives might have dual and plural forms.

Demonstratives might also be marked for person and number, e.g.

  • those two, nearby
  • that female, far away