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Demonstratives 指示詞

Updated: Oct 5, 2019

Good afternoon everyone, I hope that you are doing well. Today I want to take a quick glance at the wonderful world of demonstratives! What are demonstratives? Well, there are actually two types demonstratives: demonstrative pronouns and demonstrative adjectives. Today let’s look at the first one listed. We will focus on demonstratives adjectives in our next blog post.



Demonstrative pronouns are used to refer a person to a particular object or pronoun. Demonstrative pronouns are divided into two different forms: singular and plural. This is then divided once again into two different categories which are dependent on the objects physicality. See the diagram below.


From time to time an object the speaker referring to is difficult to determine. Is the object near themselves, or distant from them? We will look at how we can better determine this later.


For now though, let’s take a look at four examples. For these examples think of yourself at a library with someone and are looking though a selection of books. These are all things you might say.


Can you grab this for me?
Can you grab that for me?
Can you grab these for me?
Can you grab those for me?

One important thing to consider is the context within which a demonstrative pronoun is used. For a listener or reader it is considerate to make sure that the object being discussed is clearly stated. Otherwise we could accidentally assume that the person is talking about a stack of paper on the desk, or anything else in the vicinity. If you are writing, it’s good practice to specifically note what object you are focusing on before you start using a demonstrative pronoun.


Let's look at an example.


Excuse me, I’m looking for some black formal dress shoes like this pair, sized 27cm. Do you happen to have these in the back?

In the second sentence I used the word “these” in place of “some black formal dress shoes like this pair” Otherwise your second sentence would be this monstrosity of a sentence.

2つ目の文章では “some black formal dress shoes like this pair” の代わりに “these” を使いました。こうしないと、次のようなとんでもない文章になってしまいますね。

Excuse me, I’m looking for some black formal dress shoes like this pair, sized 27cm. Do you happen to have some black formal dress shoes like this pair in the back?

So what makes demonstrative pronouns difficult to understand? As mentioned above they are dependent on the location of the objects being discussed. What’s problematic about this is well… personal preference. Let me give you some context.


You are sitting at a desk at work and you see a small trinket on your co-workers desk, so you ask to see it. What do you say? Perhaps you can easily reach and touch it. So you can easily say, “May I see this?” At the same time you could also say, “May I see that?” It’s the same thing when referring to a group of objects.

同僚の机の前に座ってるとします。相手の机の上にある物が置かれています。それを見たいのですが、どう聞けばいいのでしょう?もしかしたら手を伸ばしたら簡単に届くものかもしれません。その場合は、”May I see this?”と使うでしょう。同時に、”May I see that?”と使っても可笑しくはありません。複数のものを指してる時も同じです。

I’d say, if the object(s) is/are close by and are in an area that doesn’t interfere with another person, then I would say use “This” and “These” For something distant from you or are perhaps encroaching into someones personal space you can use “that” and “those”.

私の意見ですが、もし指している者が身に近くて、触るのに周りの人の邪魔にならないのであれば、”This” と “These” を使うのが良いでしょう。ただ、自分から少しでも離れていて、届くのに周りの人の面倒や邪魔になりそうであるなら、”that” と “those” を使いましょう。

I hope this helps some, see you next time!



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