We all know our friend, the adjective. Simply put, adjectives are words that modify nouns. But what is a demonstrative adjective? It's a trickier, vague sort of adjective. A demonstrative adjective modifies a noun or pronoun in a sentence while emphasizing its importance.
A demonstrative adjective, like this or that, helps indicate a noun or pronoun in a sentence. It’s especially helpful when you want to make it clear which person or thing you would like to talk about, whether it’s near or far, singular or plural.
When you use a demonstrative adjective, the reader will know you want to talk about this cat on the couch, not that one on the floor. Readers will also know you’d like to wear this hat with the plaid, not that one with the brim.
You can even use a demonstrative adjective to emphasize which object you’re talking about. For example: That pie was delicious!
The most common demonstrative adjectives are this, that, these and those. The demonstrative adjective in a sentence will come just before a noun or pronoun and tell you which one it is specifically modifying.
The primary singular forms of demonstrative adjectives are:
The primary plural forms of demonstrative adjectives are:
There are two forms of demonstrative adjective that aren’t so common, yon and yonder, and they are practically interchangeable. They’re not much used in modern English, but you’re bound to come across them in literature, such as in this famous line from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet: “What light through yonder window breaks?”
Along with these common demonstrative adjectives there are some special pairs of demonstratives: “the one” (sometimes just “one”) and “the other;” and “the former” and “the latter.” These pairs are used to refer to two things that have already been named in a sentence. Here are some examples:
It seems funny to think of numbers as adjectives, right? Well, ordinal numbers (such as third, fourth, fifth) can act as demonstrative adjectives. There are an infinite number of these adjectives. You can usually spot them because, with a few exceptions, these are the ones that end in -th. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
If you think about it, we use demonstrative adjectives often in our daily lives. They help us define our focus by saying things like, “This dress is beautiful,” or, “That armchair is ugly.” Who knew this, that, first, and fourteenth could all be used as adjectives!
Now that you’re familiar with demonstrative adjectives discover more about their siblings demonstrative pronouns. If you’ve been confused about the difference between the two before, you won’t be any longer.