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These vs. Those: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on November 12, 2023
"These" refers to items close in proximity or context, while "those" refers to items farther away in distance or time.

Key Differences

"These" and "those" are both plural demonstrative pronouns used to specify certain items or people. "These" is used when referring to objects or individuals that are near in space or time. It indicates closeness, either in terms of physical proximity or in terms of being current or immediate. On the other hand, "those" denotes some level of distance or separation. This could be in the context of physical distance, time, or even abstract difference.
In terms of spatial relation, if you're standing in a store and pointing to shoes next to you, you'd say, "I like these shoes." Conversely, if you're pointing to shoes across the store, you would say, "I like those shoes." Thus, "these" and "those" can function as indicators of spatial relations, guiding the listener's attention either near or far.
When considering the dimension of time, "these" often refers to current events or situations, while "those" might reference past events or situations. For instance, "These days, technology is advanced," speaks of the current era. In contrast, "Those were the days," reminisces about a time gone by.
Additionally, "these" and "those" can be used beyond just temporal and spatial contexts. They can be used to emphasize distinction or contrast between two groups or categories. For example, "These ideas are innovative, but those seem outdated," distinguishes between two sets of ideas based on their relevance or novelty.

Comparison Chart


Close in space or time
Distant in space or time


Plural form for "this"
Plural form for "that"


Demonstrative pronoun for near items
Demonstrative pronoun for distant items

Example (Spatial)

Pointing to nearby objects: "These books"
Pointing to far objects: "Those mountains"

Example (Temporal)

Referring to the current period: "These times"
Referring to a past period: "Those days"

These and Those Definitions


Referring to present situations or periods.
These moments are precious.


Referring to past situations or periods.
Those were simpler times.


Indicates a group or category in contrast to another.
These solutions work better than the old ones.


Highlights a distinct group or category in comparison.
Those methods are less effective than current ones.


Demonstrative pronoun indicating items close in proximity.
These apples are fresh.


Plural form of the pronoun "that."
Those belong to my neighbor.


Used to emphasize specific objects or people in the immediate context.
These ideas are groundbreaking.


Used to specify particular objects or people separated from the speaker.
Those thoughts are outdated.


Plural form of the pronoun "this."
These are my favorite cookies.


Demonstrative pronoun indicating items at a distance.
Those cars over there are vintage.


Plural of this


Plural of that
Those bolts go with these parts.


Plural of this


Plural of that
Those who serve [those persons who serve]
Don't touch those [those objects over there]


The plural of this. See This.


The plural of that. See That.


Is "this" related to "these"?

Yes, "this" is the singular form, and "these" is the plural.

What do "these" and "those" refer to?

"These" refers to items close in proximity or context, while "those" denotes items farther away.

Are "these" and "those" used differently in British and American English?

Their primary uses are consistent, but nuances may differ in colloquial usage.

Are "these" and "those" adjectives?

They can be, as in "these shoes" or "those cars." But they can also be standalone pronouns.

Can "these" and "those" refer to time?

Yes, "these" can mean the current period, and "those" can refer to a past time.

Can "those" be used to differentiate groups?

Yes, as in "Those methods, as opposed to these, are outdated."

Can "these" and "those" be used abstractly?

Yes, they can refer to ideas or concepts, not just physical items.

Can "these" be used for emphasis?

Yes, to highlight specific items or concepts in the present context.

How about "that" and "those"?

"That" is the singular form, and "those" is the plural.

How do I decide between using "these" or "those"?

Consider proximity, either in terms of distance, time, or abstract closeness.

Is it possible for "these" to sometimes refer to distant items?

In general, "these" indicates closeness. However, context may allow for exceptions.

Is it common to mix up "these" and "those"?

For native speakers, usually not. For learners, it can be a common mistake.

Can "these" and "those" be used poetically?

Absolutely, poets might use them for various symbolic or rhythmic reasons.

Can "these" refer to people?

Yes, as in "These are my friends."

Why are "these" and "those" important in English?

They help specify and differentiate objects, people, or ideas in conversation.

Are "these" and "those" used in formal writing?

Yes, they are used in both formal and informal contexts.

Are "these" and "those" used in questions?

Yes, e.g., "Are these yours?" or "Were those the days?"

How do "these" and "those" function in negative sentences?

They can be used like, "These aren't mine" or "Those weren't the best times."

Can "those" indicate future times?

Typically, "those" references the past, but context might make future reference possible.

Do "these" and "those" have synonyms?

Not direct ones, but context might allow for replacements like "the aforementioned."
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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