I'm confused. As far as I know, this is reserved for something that is right ahead of speakers and/or speakers talk about that item the whole conversation. That is reserved for something that is not exactly right here.

But in different literature I see “that” all the time, even though sometimes it's more appropriate to use “this”.

Has “that” replaced “this”? When to use “this” and “that”?

  • 1
    No, that has not 'replaced' this. You need to give an example of where you think the word has been incorrectly used. Commented Apr 24, 2020 at 8:12

1 Answer 1


Has that replaced this?

Of course not.

  1. This- pronoun, demonstrative adjective, and determiner is used with the object/person that

(i) is new -> Introduction: “This is my sister.”

(ii) the first thing -> “This first example is very valuable”

(iii) is being experienced presently and ‘for the first time’ -> “This is my first time in Africa.”

(iv) is the only thing being presently discussed/experienced -> “You have described the main idea, concept, thing, person; This could be worth a fortune.” “Nowadays, a lot of young women want to have plastic surgery. This has become a social issue in my country.

(v) will be immediately discussed/experienced, -> “I would like some more information on this idea of yours.”

(vi) Is the nearest thing (in space or time) -> “This ring in my hand is very expensive.”

(vii) Is the thing now indicated -> “Moving on, if I may show you this. [points at something]…”

  1. That pronoun, demonstrative adjective, and determiner is the object/person that

(i) has been discussed/experienced, -> “I told you about that yesterday!”

(ii) is the next and subsequent thing, -> “This pin is rusty, now let’s look at that one."

(iii) was experienced in the past -> “I went to Zambia in 1987. That was my first time in Africa.”

(iv) is the second or subsequent thing being discussed/experienced -> "You have told me about your experience in Africa, but you also went to America, tell me about that."

(v) a more distant object in space or time-> “That over there is my shopping list.” / “Ah yes, 1950… that was the year I went to Brazil.”

This and that are deictic pronouns, and they are involved in contexts of "distance" and "pointing:" This is my dog (I'm "pointing" to my dog, which is close to me); That is my house (I'm "pointing" to the house, which is at some distance from me).

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