When I use this and that?

my name is Ute. I am German and learning English. I have a problem with:
When I use this and that?
Thank you for your help.

Good morning Uei, I’m sure that your school books give you examples of the usage of both.

Similar to “these” a “those”. (Which are usually plural items.)

Items close to hand are referred to as this or these, whilst items further away are referred to as, that and those.

There are, as ever, exceptions to this rule, but generally this is the chosen method.

Hello, Kitostad, hello Uei,

Right now I’m having on my lap the pupil’s book ‘Welcome’ by Elizabeth Grey and Virginia Evans published by Express Publishing, England. There is a picture in this book: the girl is holding a photograph of a boy and a girl, and the boy standing by the girl asks her, “Who’s that?”. The girl answers, “That’s Eddy and his sister.” The queestion is - Should we use the pronoun ‘that’ when we show or watch images in the photographs or both ‘this’ and ‘that’ are possible?


Hello Yuri, and Good afternoon to you.

The girl asked, "Who’s that?. Reply, correctly was, … “that’s…
Had she asked, “Who’ this?”, then the reply would have been, this is…”

As I said, “there are exceptions”. Depends on the scenario.


It is 9.10 p.m. near Lake Baikal. Good afternoon to you, Kitosdad. :slight_smile:

I’ve read/heard things about Lake Baikal which lead me to believe that it is quite a lake! Among those things are the following:

  • It is a very deep lake… thousands of feet in depth.
  • There are species in Lake Baikal found in no other habitat on Earth.
  • It is among the top vacation spots in Russia.

So… are those points accurate?


Do you swim in the lake? If so, given the unseen leagues beneath you and possibly nefarious/weird creatures sharing that aquatic domain, do you feel a sense of trepidation/anxiety/fear while swimming in the lake?

Thanks Yuri!

And KD, wassup dude? I hope all’s well with you and yours.



Good morning PB, thanks for asking.

Still treading water, but I sure wouldn’t do so in THAT lake.


No kidding! I was subjected, at a young age, to the Curse of Jaws:

The Jaws movies made me afraid of being underwater – lake, ocean, even the local swimming pool: I’d be swimming underwater, with my eyes closed (sans goggles), and instead of thinking, “Wow, what fun!” I’d be overtaken with the delusion that a very large man-eating shark was in the water with me and wasn’t averse to nibbling on me.

Though I knew it was dumb – no Great White, man-eater or otherwise, swims in a public pool or even a freshwater lake… it would still scare me.

As an adult I have been out a hundred yards or so in the Mediterranean and Caribbean, and thankfully I was around people who kept my mind off of Jaws. LOL

And I became tired swimming off the Cinqueterra coast (Italian Riviera). I got tired, so I got on my back/side and scissor-kicked my way to shore.

come to think of it, that was a real reason to be afraid: in the ocean, probably 300+ feet from shore, and tiring. But the Rambo survival instincts kicked in and I floated my way into shore. hehe

And while there, where the birds went for fish and there may actually have been sharks, I didn’t think about sharks. Apparently the Curse of Jaws only affects me when I’m not actually in danger. LOL

That is weird. Maybe I allow myself to feel afraid in the public pool because deep down I know that there cannot be a shark after me – I allow myself to be scared because maybe I subconsciously enjoy that particular thrill.

But out in the ocean, when I was tired – and I was tired – somehow I knew that to think of sharks would have made me swim frantically, and so since that was probably the worst thing I could have done… elevated pulse, waste of energy leading to increased fatigue and a greater chance of drowning… my mind took over and just said, “You’re tired. Slow and easy does it. Take your time, breathe normally, and keep your eyes on your friends on the beach”… maybe that was my mind doing what it should do when faced with a really potentially dangerous situation: relax, breathe, think, see, act judiciously.

My sister is a state-champion swimmer so regardless of my state of mind, she’d have come out to get me. But she didn’t have to, thank God, because that sense of calm took over. The Curse of Jaws, had it hit me then, would have made things needlessly worse.

Please excuse my on-topic interruption, PB et al. :lol:

I just wanted to mention that “this” and “that” are often used together in a sentence when a choice between two things is given. The first choice mentioned would be “this” and the second choice mentioned would frequently be “that”.

For example, imagine there are two cups on the table. Both are right in front of me. If I wanted you to choose one of them, I might say this:

  • Do you want this one or that one?

A more “on-topic” example might be as follows. Imagine that there are two dead sharks lying on the beach, very close to where I’m standing, and both appear to have consumed a large meal just before they died. If I wanted to know which one ate Prezbucky, I might ask this, as I point to one and then to the other:

  • Is this the shark that ate Tom, or did that one eat him?

[size=75]“A relationship, I think, is like a shark, you know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we got on our hands is a dead shark.” ~ Woody Allen[/size]


I didn’t expect that my short phrase ‘It’s 9.10 p.m. near Lake Baikal’ would have such a resonance. Let us be nearer to the topic and I’ll try use ‘this’ and ‘that’ telling you more about the Baikal (and you as real experts will point me on my mistakes.)
That lake is situated to the East from the central point of Asia. It is far from you, isn’t it? So I may use the preposition ‘that’.
I live in 100 kms. from the Baikal but I see this (I may say so because I am much nearer to the lake than you) lake almost every week because I often drive to Irkutsk in my car and it is impossible to miss the Baikal on my way there.
Of course, you can risk to swim in that (you are far away) lake but sooner you jump out of it like a cork from the bottle neck than dare to proceed your exercise because you may freeze this or that (we are speaking of two relative things) part of the body and maybe the most precious one of it.
Yes, the Baikal is to cold to bathe in (and next time I’ll explain you why) but it is really magnificent. There are many legends told about the Baikal and next time I’ll tell you one or another.

Best regards.