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Demonstrative Adjectives

Meaning and Examples of Demonstrative Adjectives Used Daily

An adjective that is used against a noun to separate it from the rest, a demonstrative adjective is a type of determiner. In this article, we tell you what the different types of this form of adjective are and how to use them correctly in a sentence.
Tulika Nair
Last Updated: Mar 9, 2018
In the simplest of terms, demonstrative adjectives are those words that are used to indicate a noun in a sentence. These adjectives are often considered to be deictic words. These are words that have a fixed semantic meaning but depending on the time and the place in which they are used, their denotational meaning can change completely. They require some sort of a context to mean something. These adjectives are used both in written and verbal dialog, but more so when a person indulges in a conversation. Depending on how they are used in a sentence, a demonstrative adjective can change completely. The most commonly used examples of this form are this, that, these, and those. While considered archaic now, yon and yonder are adjectives that were used a lot in the past.
These adjectives are also known as demonstrative determiners. Depending on their function in the sentence that is being framed, they may also be known as demonstrative pronouns. As mentioned earlier, the most commonly used words are this, that, these, and those. While this and that are used to refer to nouns that are singular, these and those are used to refer to nouns that are plural. It is important to keep in mind that these adjectives are used only when the objects that are being spoken of are in close proximity and can be pointed out. While this and these are known as proximal demonstrative adjectives which are used to point out objects close to the speaker, the other two words are called distal demonstrative determiners. That and those are examples of the distal form which can be used to denote those objects that are little further away from the speaker. This distinction can be made clear with the examples which are given below.
I really want to buy that pair of shoes

This table is very dirty

Those clothes need to be thrown away

Where did you get these towels from?
When you use these adjectives, it is important that a reader understands exactly which object you are talking about. Another important function that is fulfilled by the use of demonstrative determiners is the establishment of the distance between the object and the speaker of the sentence. Adjectives like yon and yonder that were previously used, were used to establish an even greater distance than that established by the use of words like that and those.
The cat is running around in yon shed

The mechanic is fixing the car at the yonder garage

In sentences where the proper noun is replaced by a demonstrative adjective, the latter is known as a demonstrative pronoun.

This is just the kind of place I wanted to build.

These are trying times. All we need to do is to be patient.
In both the above sentences, the adjective has been used as a pronoun. But grammar rules dictate that while doing this, it is important that you avoid any kind of confusion that can be created due to ambiguity.
The kid climbed over the gate and ran to his house and startled the dog in the process. This had his mother, who had witnessed the scene, laughing.
In the sentence given above, the word this can create confusion because there is ambiguity about whether it refers to the kid climbing over the gate or the dog being startled. While using demonstrative adjectives, it is therefore important that the reference and the meaning be absolutely clear.
Hopefully, this article has helped you understand this part of speech better. We use these adjectives everyday without realizing it. This article was just an attempt on our part to explain the concept to you.