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Does the demonstratives refer to the next word or previously mentioned statement?

The medieval center is Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. An evening view of these illuminated landmarks is one of the most memorable sights in Europe.

In the above sentence, does these refer to "Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral" or to the "illuminated landmarks"? I'm a little confused about this. A clear explanation would be great.

Also, what's the difference between demonstrative determiners and demonstrative pronouns?

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2 Answers

In your example, the entire phrase these illuminated landmarks refers to Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral. Within that phrase, the demonstrative determiner these tells us which illuminated landmarks the writer wants us to have in mind, that is, the landmarks just mentioned.

Demonstrative determiners are placed before nouns and, in the words of the ‘Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English’, they convey definite meaning, and specify whether the referent is near or distant in relation to the speaker. I would add that nearness and distance need not always be taken as being in space, and that speaker means ‘writer’ as well. Demonstrative pronouns, like other pronouns, stand alone in place of a noun phrase that occurs elsewhere in a piece of discourse.

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A demonstrative is something like this, that, these, those. When used in front of a noun, it functions as a demonstrative determiner, occupying the determiner slot in a noun phrase:

  • this old man
  • that big red firetruck
  • these blue hats
  • those tired refrains

However, all four can also stand alone without a noun, in which case they become demonstrative pronouns, like here:

  • I didn’t want this.
  • That will do.
  • I was looking for these.
  • Those are already there.
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