THIS, THESE, THAT, or THOSE?
(This article was first published on Playacommunity.Com on Nov 17, 2009)Think of how often we use these words in English. They are used just as often in Spanish. Known officially as demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns, I like to think of them as words that point to a noun. Learning how to use these words in Spanish will no doubt improve your conversational skills. Note too, and as always, we must respect the gender factor. Let’s look the demonstrative adjectives first:
This – Este or Esta.
These – Estos or Estas.
That – Ese or Esa.
Those – Esos or Esas.
That over there – aquel or aquella
Those over there – Aquellos or Aquellas
This book is very good. – Este libro is muy bueno.
These ladies are my neighbors. – Estas mujeres son mís vecinas.
That house is very pretty. – Esa casa es muy bonita.
Those shoes are yours. – Esos zapatos son suyos.
That table over there is oak. – Aquella mesa es de roble.
Notice in the above examples the noun is stated. This book, these ladies, those shoes, that house, etc. The speakers are referring to something specific. No accent is used over the first “E”.
Another way to use the above are as demonstrative pronouns. They are used to take the place of the noun. The key here is the noun is not stated (again) in the sentence. The speakers understand what is being talked about. Look at the expanded examples from above. Notice the use of an accent above the first “E”:
This book is very good, but that one is better. – Este libro es muy bueno, pero ése es mejor.
These ladies are my neighbors, but those are from another city. -Estas mujeres son mis vecinas, pero ésas son de otra ciudad.
That house is very old, but this one is new. –Esa casa is muy vieja, pero ésta es nueva.
Those tables are oak, these are mahogany. -Esas mesas son de roble, éstas son de caoba.
Do you see in the second part of the sentence that since the noun is understood by the speakers, it is replaced by the demonstrative pronoun.
When you want to refer to something that is nonspecific, you use the use the neuter form, eso, esto, or aquello:
This is crazy! – ¡Esto es loco!
What is that? - ¿Qué es eso?
What is happening with that? - ¿Qué pasa con eso?
That over there is a monstrosity. – Aquello es una monstruosidad.
Since these words are so common in conversation, it is well worth the effort to practice and learn their use.
Tip of the Day:
It really amazes me that we can all speak English so well, so naturally, yet learning Spanish (or I guess any other language) just seems so impossible. I have almost given up a few times myself. But what keeps me going is I have learned to enjoy it along the way. Realizing that it is a very long-term quest, I focus on what I already know rather on what I don’t. Think of how much Spanish you know now, than you did before you started. Enjoy and use what you know. This makes it easier to keep learning more.
Hope this helps!
Hi, my name is Fred. My background in Spanish is a year in high school
(long ago) and the last five years taking private lessons almost daily, in
the States and in Panamá'. I am not yet fluent, but maybe I can pass on
to you some tips to help your Spanish learning experience.