This or That?

this vs thatAdapted from

The words ‘this’ and ‘that’ are demonstrative pronouns which are used for indicating something. They are also demonstrative determiners which are used before a singular noun, and tell you which person or object you are talking about. The word ‘this‘ indicates a person or object which is close to you. On the other hand, ‘that‘ indicates a person or an object which is farther from you.

  • This sweater does not suit you, and that one is too big for you.
  • This necklace is made of pure diamonds, but that’s not for you.

In both the examples, you might have observed that when we use the word ‘this’ it indicates that the object is closer to the speaker, but ‘that’ reflects that the object is at a distant place in the first example, while in the second one, it means ‘a particular object (implied)’.

Comparison Chart

Definition of This

Basically, we use the word ‘this’ to show or point out an object, person, idea, time, etc. which is right here with you or close to you or which is recently mentioned, experienced or supposed to be understood. However, in English we can use it in many contexts, as discussed in the points given below:

  1. To refer someone or something:
    • Kate studies in this college.
    • This pancake is superb.
    • I would love to watch this movie once again.
    • His friend repaired this mobile himself.
    • Where shall I keep this jar?
    • Who is going to complete this?
    • This is the way to Principal’s cabin.
    • This is my favourite dress.
    • I heard this news on the internet.
    • During encroachment, several houses of this area are demolished.
  2. To refer to something near in time or space, to the speaker:
    • Alex joined the army in March this year.
    • I have seen her in the coffee house, this evening.
    • By this time, I will reach New York tomorrow.
    • I will go to my Granny’s home, this vacations.
  3. To talk about degree:
    • The car was this close to me.
    • Joe never reacted like this on a silly joke.

Definition of That

When we talk about a particular object, idea or person, which is previously mentioned or implied, we use the word ‘that’. Moreover, it is also used to refer to someone or something which is far away from the speaker. There are a number of ways, to use the word that, which we’ll discuss in the points given below:

  1. To indicate someone or something, distant in time or space from the speaker:
    • That issue has to be resolved first.
    • Who is that boy talking to Lisa?
    • That accident happened some days ago.
    • That old woman has shifted to Delhi.
    • You should try that new salon and spa, opened in our area.
  2. To refer to something which was formerly discussed or you already have an idea of it:
    • She stopped working on that project, after coming back from Australia.
    • They always arrange a party at that restaurant.
    • The lady who was shouting at me that day is my mother.
  3. As a conjunction, to introduce relative clause:
    • Where are the earrings that you have borrowed from me?
    • Claudia works for a company, that deals in security alarms.
  4. As an adverb it refers to as much as suggested or given:
    • The lady is too old to work that much.
    • The candidates are not given that much time.



  • This is my sister.
  • I made this snack for you.
  • Whose is this mobile?
  • I can’t believe this!
  • The new restaurant opens this new year.


  • That is my friend’s house.
  • No, that book is mine.
  • That’s cool.
  • Do not touch that blade!
  • Would you pass me that bowl?

How to remember the difference

The most important tip, to differentiate between these two Basic English words is when someone/something is right here with you – use ‘this’, whereas when someone/something is there, i.e. at a distance – use ‘that’.