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Possible Duplicate:
Using “that” and “this” interchangeably

What is the difference?

  • What do you think about that?
  • What do you think about this?

What is the grammar rule about using this and that in this way?

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marked as duplicate by MετάEd, tchrist, coleopterist, Robusto, Barrie England Jan 21 '13 at 8:03

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This refers to a primary matter. That refers to something secondary or external. For a tertiary aspect, you may use "the other." For example, say you were visiting colleges and you were currently at "this" school (as in the one that you're in). You're also currently talking about another school ("that" school). But there's another school not part of the conversation. You may say: this school, that school, and the other school are all really great options. –  Jeremy Jan 21 '13 at 3:13

1 Answer 1

There is no grammatical principle. Rather it is the principle of relative proximity.

Where relative spatial proximity is not present, we could then depend on emotional-proximity.

Being relatively detached

What are those things doing on the screen?

Being relatively more affected

What is this doing on my desktop?

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