Demonstrative adjectives: This, that, these and those in Spanish

Demonstrative adjectives: This, that, these and those in Spanish

by Alison Maciejewski Cortez

Updated November 15, 2022

Learning how to use the demonstrative adjectives “this”, “that”, “these” and “those” in Spanish is important if you’re learning the language. Demonstratives are a topic to include in the early stages of your study plan, because they are endlessly useful words.

Knowing demonstratives in Spanish is a great asset if you’re planning to travel to a Spanish-speaking country. It’ll make your life easier when you ask if you can take this sun lounger while relaxing on a Mexican beach. Or are you looking to improve your Spanish for professional purposes for that upcoming interview? Whatever your goal, let’s go over demonstrative Spanish adjectives and see what these little words are all about.

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What are demonstrative adjectives?

Before we get into how to use demonstratives in Spanish, let’s review what demonstrative adjectives actually are. These words help us describe the position of a noun in regard to distance or time. In English, the singular demonstratives are “this” and “that”. Their plural forms are “these” and “those.” Here we have two examples:

  • That woman is the owner of those apartments.
  • This dress is a different color from these other ones.

In English, there are two levels of distance. “This” and “these” refer to something in close proximity – within arm’s length. “That” and “those” point at things that are further away, out of reach.

What are the most common demonstrative Spanish adjectives?

Demonstrative adjectives in Spanish play the same role as in English. They are words to help point at something or someone.

This (close)SingularEsteEsta
These (close)PluralEstosEstas
That (further)SingularEseEsa
Those (further)PluralEsosEsas
That (over there)SingularAquelAquella
Those (over there)PluralAquellosAquellas

Note: We are imagining three different distances. Este is right here. The difference between aquel and ese (and their female or plural versions) is that aquel is further than ese in time or space. Perhaps even out of sight. That’s why we label aquel as “that over there”.

How do we use demonstrative Spanish adjectives?

Here are some rules to use demonstrative adjectives in Spanish:

  • Demonstrative Spanish adjectives reflect the number and gender of the noun.
  • In Spanish, we can find three levels of distance: close proximity, out of reach, and further over there. Distance increases with each level, with este (this) being the closest and aquel (that over there) being the furthest.
  • When we list items in a series, use a demonstrative for each item.
  • The demonstrative adjective goes before the noun it wants to modify. This is the same as in English (example: this car, that sock, those pears).

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Examples of sentences using demonstrative adjectives in Spanish

Here are some examples:

  • Esta ciudad es muy grande para mí.
    This city is too big for me.
  • Estos zapatos no me gustan, pero aquellos parecen lindos.
    I don’t like these shoes, but those (over there) seem nice.
  • Esas montañas parecen de cuento.
    Those hills look like they belong in a fairy tale.
  • Esta vez no podré acompañarte al parque.
    This time I won’t be able to go with you to the park.
  • ¿Recuerdas aquellos días?
    Do you remember those days?
  • Quiero estas manzanas y aquellos plátanos. 

I want these apples and those bananas (over there).

Tips for studying demonstratives in Spanish

There are several tips and tools you can use to study demonstrative adjectives in Spanish. Here are some ideas:

  • Use technology. Dive into YouTube and find videos related to the topic.
  • Visualize it. When creating a sentence using demonstratives, visualize the distance of the object you want to refer to. For example, draw an imaginary line that demonstrates three distances of objects in relation to you.
  • Keep your ears open. Watch a movie or listen to a podcast in Spanish and count how many demonstrative adjectives you can spot. Then categorize them according to the table above.

This is going to be easy

Now you understand the demonstrative adjectives in Spanish! We promise they’ll come in handy quite often in daily life. Just like in English, knowing how to use “this”, “that”, “these” and “those” in Spanish helps us communicate clearly and avoid confusion. It helps us interact well with people. Going to the market while on holiday? Planning to order food at a Spanish-speaking restaurant? These words will make you feel confident about voicing what you want.

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Alison Maciejewski Cortez is Chilean-American, born and raised in California. She studied abroad in Spain, has lived in multiple countries, and now calls Mexico home. She believes that learning how to order a beer in a new language reveals a lot about local culture. Alison speaks English, Spanish, and Thai fluently and studies Czech and Turkish. Her consulting business takes her around the world and she is excited to share language tips as part of the Lingoda team. Follow her culinary and cultural experiences on Twitter.

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