Definition of Demonstrative Pronoun
Demonstrative pronoun is a pronoun that points towards the noun it replaces, indicating it in time, space, and distance. It can be singular or a plural; it may be a near demonstrative, “this, that,” or a far demonstrative, “that, those.”
Demonstrative pronouns play the same role other pronouns do. They can work both as subjects as well as objects, usually describing places, things, animals, and people. There are four demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these, and those. For instance, “After surveying the ground, Snowball declared that this was just the place for a windmill …” (Animal Farm, by George Orwell).
Common Use of Demonstrative Pronoun
- These are obedient children.
- This is my father’s suit.
- Felix selected that.
- That may take some time to finish.
- Tess, would you please send this?
Difference between Demonstrative Pronoun and Demonstrative Adjective
Demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative adjectives are similar, as both of them use similar words for each other. The difference between them is that demonstrative pronouns replace nouns, for instance:
- This looks like a wonderful car that I would drive.
- These are comfortable shoes, however do not look so.
In these lines, “this” and “these” are demonstrative pronouns, replacing the nouns, “car,” and “shoes.”
However, demonstrative adjectives are also known as demonstrative determiners, which come before nouns, but do not replace them. For instance:
- This building is old.
- These sandwiches are delicious.
Here, “this” and “these” are demonstrative adjectives, coming before nouns.
Examples of Demonstrative Pronoun in Literature
Example #1: A Tale of Two Cities (by Charles Dickens)
“With those words the passenger opened the coach-door and got in; not at all assisted by his fellow-passengers… That’s right, that’s right. Courage! Business! You have business before you; useful business…”
In these lines, Dickens has used “that” twice, which is a demonstrative pronoun, and replaces some statements mentioned earlier. But “those” is a demonstrative adjective which comes before the noun.
Example #2: The Great Gatsby (by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
“This idea is that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and — —” After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again.”
“This was untrue …
“They had spent a year in France for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully … This was a permanent move, said Daisy over the telephone, but I didn’t believe it …”
In this example, the author has used “this” three times. The first instance (“This idea”) is a demonstrative adjective, while the second and the third instances (“This was untrue,” and “This was a permanent move”) are demonstrative pronouns, used to point towards some action taking place in a particular time.
Example #3: To the Lighthouse (by Virginia Wolf)
“What people had shed and left — a pair of shoes, a shooting cap, some faded skirts and coats in wardrobes — those alone kept the human shape and in the emptiness indicated how once they were filled and animated …
“At that season those who had gone down to pace the beach and ask of the sea and sky what message they reported or what vision they affirmed had to consider among the usual tokens of divine bounty … “
Here, “those” is a demonstrative pronoun that replaces the noun “people.” The first one directs towards the position of the people in place, and the second one directs towards the position of the people in time.
Example #4: Animal Farm (by George Orwell)
“The next moment he and his four men were in the store-shed with whips in their hands, lashing out in all directions. This was more than the hungry animals could bear.”
“This morning I saw you looking over the hedge that divides Animal Farm from Foxwood … he was talking to you and you were allowing him to stroke your nose. What does that mean, Mollie?”
In this excerpt, the author has used the words “this” and “that” as demonstrative pronouns. “This was more than …” uses the pronoun to replace the description of a scene.
The second use of “this,” in “This morning I saw you,” serves as a demonstrative adjective, specifying which morning. “What does that mean,” uses the demonstrative pronoun to point toward a situation that had happened earlier.
The function of a demonstrative pronoun is to point out the location and time of objects or persons in a description. It typically performs the function of a pronoun by referring to a task, an event, a situation, a person, or an object. It can serve as a subject, direct or indirect object, object of preposition, prepositional complement, and object complement within a sentence. It also gives additional information about literal and figurative distance of the clause, phrase or word that it replaces