Demonstrative determiners belong to a closed class of words call determiners. Determiners provide information such as familiarity, location, quantity, and number about a noun, pronoun (rarely), or noun phrase. Demonstrative determiners express grammatical number and deixis, or proximity. The demonstrative determiners in English are this, that, these, and those. Do not confuse the demonstrative determiners with the demonstrative pronouns, which are identical in form but different in function.
The singular proximal demonstrative determiner is this. Singular refers to singular in number, meaning the antecedent refers to only one person, place, thing, or idea. Proximal means “very near or close to.” The singular distal demonstrative determiner is that. Distal means “remote or distant from.” The plural proximal demonstrative determiner is these. Plural refers to plural in number, meaning the antecedent refers to two or more people, places, things, or ideas. The plural distal demonstrative determiner is those.
In grammar, a determinative is a word or phrase that expresses additional information such as definiteness, proximity, quantity, and relationships about a noun phrase and that differs from an adjective phrase, which describes attributes. In the English language, demonstrative determiners frequently function as determinatives. Examples of demonstrative determiners as determinatives include the following:
- This chicken egg is smaller than those ostrich eggs.
- That Kleenex needs thrown away.
- These problems are much too big for those students to handle.
- That glove and that hat should go with those coats and that shoe.
- This peacock stole that sandwich from those picnickers.
- Those bottles of hand sanitizer fell from that truck.
Demonstrative Determiners as Determinatives
Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.