A person writing something on paper. Photo by Unseen Studio on Unsplash

Have you ever wondered why "this" decision felt right but "that" choice seemed distant?

Have you ever been unsure when to use "this" vs. "that"? You’re not alone! Even experienced writers sometimes struggle with these slight differences.

You'll easily master this skill in very little time and improve your writing. Whether you're writing an important email, a school paper, or simply texting a friend, knowing when to use "this" vs. "that" can make a big difference.

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Turn this confusion into clarity!

Understand the Basics

Do you have something nearby that you can point to?

Books and a pen sit on the table. Photo by Mikhail Pavstyuk on Unsplash

Pick it up. Is it a pen, a book, or maybe your phone? Now, say out loud, "This [object] is near me." Notice how "this" feels right because the object is close to you.

Now, look around the room for something further away.

A room with a large bookshelf containing many books. Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Point to it and say, "That [object] is over there."

Feel the difference?

"This" is for things close by, and "that" is for things farther away. They're both demonstrative pronouns.

This vs That: Near vs Far

Proximity can be physical or metaphorical. Let’s make this interactive!

Think about an issue you are currently dealing with.

Say, "This issue I’m dealing with needs immediate attention."

A woman at a work desk is thinking or recalling something. Photo by Magnet.me on Unsplash

Now, recall a problem you resolved last month.

Say, "That issue we resolved last month was tough."

Notice how using "this" makes it feel current and urgent, while "that" places it in the past.


Which word implies that a problem has been resolved and is no longer a concern?

This vs. That: Now vs. Then

Time to travel through time!

Imagine planning a vacation. Say out loud, "This summer, I plan to travel."

Feels immediate and exciting, right?

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Now, think back to a memorable summer. Say, "That summer, I traveled a lot."

"That" helps to place it in the past, giving it a nostalgic feel.


You are currently at the beach enjoying the sun. How do you express this?

This vs. That: Introducing vs Recalling

Ready to get specific?

Think of a new idea you want to introduce in a meeting or a conversation.

Say, "This is what I propose: a new strategy for our project."

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Now, recall an idea you discussed earlier.

Say, "That was the reason for our decision."

See how "this" brings focus to new information, while "that" refers back to something already known.

You can use "this" and "that" with nouns or on their own.

With nouns: This pen has no ink.

On their own: This is fun! That was cool.

Practice with Examples

Test your understanding with some interactive practice!

An image with text practice makes perfect on it. Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Complete the sentences with either "this" or "that":

  1. ___ is the book I was telling you about. (Hint: You mentioned it earlier.)

  2. ___ is the best day of my life. (Hint: You’re talking about today.)

  3. I can’t believe ___ happened. (Hint: Referring to a past event.)

  4. Look at ___ beautiful sunset! (Hint: You’re pointing to it right now.)


Choose the correct option that is the correct answer for the above sentences in the correct order.

Check for Understanding

Quick review time!

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Answer these questions to see how well you’ve grasped the concept of "this" vs. "that":

  1. Which word should you use to refer to an idea you just mentioned?

  2. Which word is appropriate for an object you're currently holding?

If you need more practice, revisit the examples and try creating your own sentences.


Try to find the correct answer for above questions.

Take Action

Pay attention to how you use "this" vs. "that" in emails, reports, and everyday communication. Keep practicing!

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For further practice with "this" vs. "that":


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