Author: British Council | Published on 2 February 2023


Stage 1: Present examples 

Place one item, e.g. a cup, in front of you and another identical item on a desk or shelf across the room.

Ask: “What do I have in front of me?” Learners reply  “A (cup.)”

Reply, “Yes, this is a (cup).” Write the sentence on the board. 

Point to the other object. Ask: “What can you see?” Learners reply, “A (cup).”

Say: “Great, that is a cup.”

Add additional identical items to both sites e.g. two cups.  Repeat the exercise using  ‘these’ and ‘those.’ 

Write these sentences on the board:

These are cups.

Those are cups.

Point to the sentences on the board and ask: “What do you notice about these sentences?”

Stage 2: Take feedback

Check understanding. Ask learners to give feedback on what they noticed from the examples. Some key points could include:

  • Demonstrative pronouns point out a specific person or thing.
  • They are indicated by the words this, that, these or those.
  • This and that refer to single items/people. e.g. That is a cup.
  • These and those refer to plurals. Those are cups.
  • The verb form changes according to whether it is singular or plural e.g. This is a cup (s) These are cups (p)
  • Demonstrative pronouns can refer to position in space e.g. “This is a cup” refers to items which are nearby, and “That is a cup” refers to items are a little distance away.

Stage 3: Use the grammar

Read a story

Choose a familiar story. Tell or read it out loud to the learners. Whenever you reach a demonstrative pronoun, say “beep” and read to the end of the sentence. Then ask learners to say what the correct word should be (i.e. this, that, these, those)

For example: Read: “Goldilocks pointed to the first chair. She said, “What’s ………?”  Wait for learners to respond with this. Say: Yes. Goldilocks said, “What’s this? ”

To extend the activity, give learners a copy of the story with gaps. They fill in the correct demonstrative pronoun in each gap.

Run and touch the object

Play this high-energy game at the end of the lesson. Learners run and touch classroom objects which are near the teacher (this, these) or far from the teacher (that, those).

e.g. The teacher says: Run and touch these pencils/that table/those pictures, etc.

Read and act. 

Write sentences on the board. The learners act out the sentence e.g. this is my friend; that is my friend’s desk, etc.