Demonstratives in Spanish

Spanish Demonstratives

Demonstratives are words we use to signal by adding a notion of distance in space or time. There are two kinds of demonstratives: demonstratives adjectives (este vino (this wine)) and demonstrative pronouns (¿qué es esto? (What’s this?)).

“Demonstrative” comes from “to demonstrate,” so this give us an idea of the function of this grammatical elemet..

In this section we are going to study the demonstrative with detail. In English, “this” and “these” are used to refer to things or people that are close to the speaker. “That” and “those” are used to refer to things or people that are distant. In Spanish, there is one more group to refer to things or people that are even further.


Este: Este viernes nos vamos a Escocia (This Friday we are going toScotland)

Esta: Esta casa es preciosa (This house is beautiful)

Estos: Estos son mis amigos (These are my friends)

Estas: Estas zapatillas son mías (These sneakers are mine)

Average distance

Ese:Me gusta ese coche negro (I like that black car)

Esa: Esa chica de allí es mi novia (That girl there is my girlfriend)

Esos: No me gustan esos comentarios (I don’t like those comments)

Esas: Me das esas llaves  (Could you give me those keys)

Long distance

Aquel: Aquel pueblo se llama Aranjuez (That village over there is called Aranjuez)

Aquella: Ve por aquella calle de la derecha (Go by that street on the right)

Aquellos: Aquellos niños son mis hijos (Those children are my sons)

Aquellas: Trae aquellas botellas de allí (Bring those bottles)

The neuter demonstrative pronoun

Demonstrative pronouns would demonstrate the location of the noun they replace. If you have several options, let’s say pens, and someone asks you which one you want, you can respond with “this one” (the one close to you), or “that one” (the one far from you). “This one” and “That one” are both demonstrative pronouns.

Neuter demonstrative pronouns are used in Spanish speech to refer to concepts, ideas, or something that is not truly known. They are neuter, as they do not replace a specific noun, even though they end in “-o”. They also do not have accent unlike the other pronouns. (Esto, eso, aquello).

It is used to refer to inanimate things without specifying their gender or to talk about ideas or abstract concepts:

Esa es la idea que yo tenía en mente (that’s the idea I had in mind)

Eso es lo que busco (That’s what I was looking for)

Eso no lo entiedo (I don’t get that)

Demonstratives, reference to time

Sometimes, the neuter demonstratives are not only used to refer space but time as well. From other point of view we can understand this concept as a distance in terms of time. Here you have a few examples:

Este sábado es mi cumpleaños (This Saturday is my birthday)

Esa semana estuve enfermo (That week I was sick)

Nunca olvidaré aquel día (I won’t forget that day)

Aquellos años fueron maravillosos (Those years were wonderful)

En aquel momento era divertido (By that time it was fun)

Derogatory connotations

As the demonstratives are used to express distance, sometimes in speech they are used with a pejorative function. This means, to express a psychological distancing from the speaker or to make clear that the object referred is far away form the speaker, metaphorically.

Ten cuidado con ese idiota (Be careful with that idiot)

Esa tonta es muy molesta (that silly girl is annoying)

No me gusta ese chico (I don’t like that guy)

-Sometimes in this specific case, the demonstrative could go after the noun. In this situation, the noun will need an article:

No quiero saber nada de los señores esos (I don’t want to hear anything about those gentlemen)

No me acerques la cosa esa (Do not take that thing any closer)

No quiero que hables con la chica esa (I don’t want you to talk to that girl)

How can we express “the latter…and the former” in Spanish

In Spanish, we use “este” and “aquel” to express the “the latter” and “the former”, repectively. So, when you think or read this kind of expressions you just have to place them in the specific positions. Let’s see an example to illustrate this:

“El jefe llamó al empleado para tartar un problema en la compañía. Este no dijo nada mientras que aquel no paró de hablar en toda la reunión”

(The boss call the employee to treat a problem in the company. The latter did not say anything while the former did’nt stop talking during the whole meeting)

You can realise that in this kind of situations, the demonstratives are doing the same function. “Este” is referring to the closest in the sentence (the employee) and “aquel” to the other noun (the boss), which is more distant.


We hope we helped with your Spanish Lessons – demonstratives. (Spanish info)


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