English vocabulary determiners

Singular & Plurals (this, these, that, those)

This, these, that, those – puh what a headache! These 4 little words can get so confusing but I’m going to show you how to make it simple.

So imagine you are in a clothes shop and you want to try something on. If it’s a singular item (e.g. a t-shirt, a jumper, a skirt, a bikini) then you need to use ‘this’. You go to the changing rooms and you say:

“Can I try this on please?”

But if it’s a plural item, you need to change ‘this’ to ‘these’ Now this is where it gets a bit tricky. Plural means more than one but also anything you can put a pair of in front of is spoken about like a plural item (e.g. trousers, glasses, shorts, shoes). So then you say:

“Can I try these on please?”

If the item is not in your hands but in pointing distance, change ‘this’ to ‘that’ and ‘these’ to ‘those’. (The same rule applies if you are talking about something out of reach perhaps from a previous day.)

So imagine pointing to a t-shirt. You say:

“How much is that t-shirt?”

And imagine pointing to a pair of shoes. You say:

“How much are those shoes?”

So it’s simple really hey?!

Here’s a little visual, you can pin or save for later to remind you of the rules:

this that these those

Do you want to test yourself? Which word (this, that, these, those) fits in the gaps below? You can use each word only once 🙂

  1. Can you pass me ________ pen?
  2. Mmm, _________ strawberries are delicious!
  3. Where did you buy _________ trousers?
  4. Do you like ________ lipstick colour on me?

Not sure about your answers? Pop them in the comments section below and I’ll check them for you 🙂

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Nicki is a Cambridge qualified, experienced English teacher for foreign learners. She loves helping English learners to learn real English and communicate with confidence!

4 thoughts on “Singular & Plurals (this, these, that, those)

  1. 1. Can you pass me that pen?
    2. Mmm, these strawberries are delicious!
    3. Where did you buy those trousers?
    4. Do you like this lipstick colour on me?

    1. Perfect!! 🙂

  2. 1.we use that.
    2. We use those.
    3.we use these.
    4.we use this.

    1. Great work Vita! You have grasped the difference in singulars and plurals really well. I would just swap 2 and 3. The person must be eating the strawberries because they say ‘mmm’ and pointing to their friend’s trousers so that would make it sound a bit more natural, not a big issue though! Well done 🙂

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