Posted by: Jack Henry | May 27, 2021

Editor’s Corner: Demonstrative Pronouns

Hi there, folks. I was looking for something in an old email and I found an article called, “Demonstrative Pronouns.” I don’t recall learning anything in English class by that name. I was thinking, “Hmm, this sounds interesting. I wonder what these pronouns demonstrate. How to use a Ginsu knife? How to turn a dollar into a million? How to make asparagus that will delight your guests?” Boy was I surprised when I saw that these are demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these, and those.

It was one of those times I realized that this is something you learn growing up speaking a language, but it’s more like absorbing the information than studying lessons. I do not recall learning about demonstrative pronouns until French or Spanish class.

And why am I bringing this up? I mention it because we editors often remind you to make sure you use clear antecedents in your writing. For example, you might be writing about a new and exciting breed of puppy, but instead of saying “Poodle-Doodle” you say, “This is the best one of these you can buy.” You’re referring to a particular noun (Poodle-Doodle), but before you use “this” or “these,” you need to define which noun you are talking about. That noun is the antecedent. You could make the claim much clearer using one of these options:

  • The Poodle-Doodle breed is very popular with dog lovers. This is the best dog you can buy.
  • This Poodle-Doodle is the best dog you can buy.
  • These Poodle-Doodles are the best dogs you can buy.

There are more possibilities, but as you can see, the antecedent (Poodle-Doodle) is a specific noun that occurs before you start using the pronoun.

Near Far
Singular This is a Poodle-Doodle.

That is a Poodle-Doodle.

Plural These are Poodle-Doodles.

Those are Poodle-Doodles.

Here are a few more examples for you:

For this class the instructor said colored pencils are required. We can also bring brushes, paints, and paper, but those aren’t required.

Antecedents: brushes, paints, and paper

Pronoun: those

Amit said he enjoys swimming, but that is not his favorite sport.

Antecedent: swimming

Pronoun: that

Roberto is with me viewing the Spanish painters at the Prado. These are our favorite painters.

Antecedents: painters

Pronoun: these

I am eating some rum raisin gelato; this is mine, so go get your own!

Antecedent: gelato

Pronoun: this

Kara Church

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Technical Editor, Advisory

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