It vs This/That – What’s the Difference? A Guide to Using Pronouns Correctly

Marcus Froland

Many of us breeze through conversations, emails, and texts without giving a second thought to the tiny words that make our sentences clear. But sometimes, even the smallest words can trip us up. Take for example ‘it’ and ‘this/that’. They might seem interchangeable at first glance, but are they really? The truth is, these little words pack a big punch in terms of meaning and usage.

In the English language, every word has its place and purpose. Knowing when to use ‘it’ instead of ‘this’ or ‘that’ can be the key to crafting precise and effective communication. So why do so many of us mix them up? And more importantly, how can we get it right? As we peel back the layers on these commonly confused pronouns, you might just find that the answer is not as straightforward as you think.

Understanding the difference between “it”, “this”, and “that” is key in English. “It” is used for a thing previously mentioned or easily identified. For example, “The phone is ringing. Can you answer it?” Here, “it” refers to the phone already talked about.

“This” points to something close to the speaker or recently mentioned, often used for introducing something. For instance, “This is my new bike,” while holding or pointing to the bike.

“That” refers to things that are not close to the speaker or were mentioned some time ago. If you see a bike across the street, you might say, “That looks like a fast bike.”

In short, use “it” for referring back, “this” for close or new topics, and “that” for distant things or ideas.

Understanding the Basics: It, This, and That in Grammar

In this section, we will explore the fundamental principles of English grammar, focusing on the pronouns it, this, and that as subject and object pronouns. To better understand these pronouns, we will delve into examples and their specific usage in conversation.

Exploring ‘It’ as a Subject and Object Pronoun

The pronoun it can function as both a subject pronoun and an object pronoun. Typically, it is used to describe an object or entity known to the conversation participants. The pronoun it is commonly employed in relation to time, weather, distance, and instances when the actor is not clearly identifiable. Some examples include:

  • It is a beautiful day.
  • It rained last night.

Note that ‘it’ is not used for people, but for animals and non-living things. In some cases, it can be utilized to emphasize a specific part of a sentence.

The Dual Role of ‘This’ and ‘That’ as Demonstrative Pronouns and Adjectives

Both this and that can act as demonstrative pronouns and adjectives. They are used to introduce new items in conversation and emphasize context. The pronoun this refers to subjects close to the speaker, while that pertains to those farther away. Furthermore, ‘this’ can also create intimacy during presentations or demonstrations, as shown in the example below:

This diagram illustrates the sales growth for the past quarter.

On the other hand, ‘that’ has the ability to refer back to previously mentioned statements or ideas:

You mentioned a new marketing strategy earlier. That could potentially boost our sales.

By understanding these grammar basics, you can confidently differentiate between ‘it,’ ‘this,’ and ‘that,’ enhancing your overall communication skills.

Related:  Ignorant vs. Stupid – What’s the Difference?

The Significance of Context in Choosing Between It, This, and That

As an English language learner, you may often find it challenging to decide which pronoun to use in different situations. Understanding the contextual pronoun usage plays a pivotal role in selecting correct pronouns when communicating your thoughts effectively. Whether you’re emphasizing a particular idea, referring back to previous conversations, or introducing new topics and objects, the context carries the pronoun context significance needed to make more accurate and precise language choices.

In this section, we’ll focus on the it, this, that differences that arise from various contexts while providing examples that illustrate the importance of selecting the appropriate pronoun based on the situation.

Let’s look at an example where the subtle shift in context helps in choosing between ‘it,’ ‘this,’ and ‘that’:

A: “Have you ever tried sushi?”
B: “Yes, I have. I really enjoyed it.”
A: “I had some fantastic sushi yesterday. This restaurant nearby makes the best rolls I’ve ever had.”
B: “Oh, I’ve heard about that place. I need to try it out soon!”

In the dialogue above, you can observe how the participants successfully employed ‘it,’ ‘this,’ and ‘that’ based on the context:

  1. It: refers back to ‘sushi,’ something both participants know and have experienced.
  2. This: emphasizes a new idea, introducing the restaurant where ‘A’ had the sushi.
  3. That: signals familiarity on ‘B’s part, indicating they’ve heard of the restaurant before, but it’s not directly involved in the conversation.

Now, consider an alternative conversation in a different context:

A: “Isn’t that building on the left beautiful?”
B: “Yes, it is. I love architecture from the art deco period.”
A: “Me too! This art deco walking tour we’re on is outstanding.”
B: “Yes, I’ve discovered so many new things about the city during this tour!”

Conversational context, once again, helps you choose the right pronoun:

  • That: indicates a specific, distant building pointed out by ‘A.’
  • It: refers back to the specified building, which both participants can see.
  • This: used to emphasize the new topic, the walking tour, and indicate that the participants are currently engaged in the activity.

Understanding the nuances among ‘it,’ ‘this,’ and ‘that’ requires a strong grasp of the context in which they’re used. With practice and attention to conversational details, you’ll be able to effortlessly incorporate these pronouns into your speech, enhancing your communication skills and overall English proficiency.

Emphasizing Objects and Ideas: When to Use Each Pronoun

In this section, we will explore the strategic usage of pronouns for emphasizing and clarifying objects and ideas. Focusing on this and that in contrast with it, you will see how these demonstrative pronouns can provide clarity and emphasis in your language.

Related:  Strived or Strove – What Is the Past Tense of Strive?

Using ‘This’ and ‘That’ for Emphasis and Clarity

When introducing an object or idea for the first time, it is essential to use this and that to emphasize and clarify what you’re referring to. They can:

  1. Indicate the subject in focus
  2. Direct the listener’s or reader’s attention
  3. Draw a distinction between two or more objects or ideas

Consider the following examples:

Chris is giving a presentation about Project A and Project B.

Chris: “This project is aimed at improving our marketing strategies, while that project focuses on expanding our sales reach.”

Here, Chris uses ‘this’ and ‘that’ for emphasis and clarity. By using this and that, Chris can effectively highlight the specific projects to which he’s referring.

Subsequent references to these projects can then be made using ‘it’ to maintain clarity while avoiding repetition:

Chris: “It is important to ensure Project A’s success so we can achieve our ultimate marketing goals.”

Distinguishing Between Objects and Abstract Ideas

Understanding when to use pronouns for objects as opposed to abstract ideas is essential in providing emphasis and clarity. Typically, it represents tangible objects, while this and that signify ideas or plans.

For example:

“It is such a beautiful painting.”

“That approach may not be suitable for our current situation.”

In the first example, ‘it’ refers to the tangible object: the painting. For the second example, ‘that’ highlights the idea of a specific approach that may not be suitable.

Differentiating between objects and abstract ideas using the right pronouns is crucial for improving your communication skills and providing clarity in your language.

Remember to strategically use pronouns to bring emphasis and understanding to your communications. With practice, you’ll be able to master clarity in language and effortlessly use this, that, and it for greater impact in your writing and speech.

Proximity and Demonstratives: The Role of ‘This’ and ‘That’

In the English language, demonstrative pronouns play a significant role in distinguishing between items based on their distance from the speaker. Understanding the proximity rules governed by this and that allows for improved communication, enhanced clarity, and a profound grasp of grammar rules. Let’s explore the straightforward guideline to follow when choosing between ‘this’ and ‘that.’

‘This’ for Near and ‘That’ for Far: A Simple Rule of Thumb

When considering the proximity of an item or person to the speaker, ‘this’ denotes those that are closer, while ‘that’ is used for items or individuals further away. Adhering to this simple rule helps ensure that your messages are easily understood by your audience.

Related:  Formerly vs Formally: What's the Difference?

For instance, when referring to objects placed on a table,

This book is mine, and that pen is yours.

By using ‘this’ for the book, the speaker indicates that it is close to them. Conversely, by opting for ‘that’ when mentioning the pen, the speaker implies that it is relatively farther away. These distinctions enable the listener to discern the items with ease, fostering seamless communication.

When physically present with your conversation partner, you can also employ gestures to highlight the proximity and immediacy of the subject in focus. For example, pointing to items or people while uttering ‘this’ can strengthen the connection between the pronoun and its referent, providing additional visual context.

  1. This is typically utilized to reference objects or people near the speaker.
  2. The demonstrative pronoun that is reserved for those further away.
  3. Gestures can bolster the association between ‘this’ and the item or person being discussed.

Gaining proficiency in the Grammar Proximity Rules and understanding the implications of This vs That can vastly improve your language skills. By harnessing the power of proximity with demonstrative pronouns, your conversations can be clearer, more precise, and increasingly engaging.

Introducing and Referring: Practical Examples of It, This, and That in Action

Mastering the art of using pronouns correctly can greatly enhance your communication skills. In this section, we’ll explore some practical examples of when to use ‘it’, ‘this,’ and ‘that’ for introducing and referring to people and things. We’ll demonstrate how these pronouns serve different purposes and help create clear, engaging, and effective language.

Introducing People and Things with ‘This’ and ‘That’

Using ‘this’ and ‘that’ as demonstrative pronouns is a powerful way to introduce people and things into conversations. For instance, when presenting a new product to an audience, you might say, “This is the latest iPhone from Apple.” Similarly, when introducing someone for the first time, you could say, “That is the famous singer, Rihanna.” By utilizing ‘this’ and ‘that’ strategically, you can emphasize the significance of the subject and create a sense of proximity or distance for your listeners.

Identifying Known Objects with ‘It’

After using ‘this’ or ‘that’ to introduce something new, the pronoun ‘it’ can serve as a useful tool for referring to previously mentioned subjects. For example, you might say, “This is my new laptop. It has a high-resolution display and a powerful processor.” In this case, ‘it’ smoothly refers back to the laptop without needing to repeat the noun. In another situation, suppose someone asks you if the book on the table is yours. You can respond with, “Yes, it’s mine.” Here, ‘it’ clearly replaces the word ‘book’, which is already known in the context of the conversation.

You May Also Like: