• The verb ‘demonstrate’ means ‘to show’; to indicate; to refer to (something)
  • The adjective ‘demonstrative’ means ‘showing / indicating what or who is being referred to’ (Source:

Demonstrative pronouns represent (‘stand for’) a thing or an idea. 

  Singular Plural
Things or ideas that  are near (in distance or time) this these
Things or ideas that are far (in distance or time) that those

Demonstrative adjectives are exactly the same but a demonstrative pronoun can stand alone, while a demonstrative adjective must modify (describe) a stated noun.


  • This may be harmful. (‘This’ = demonstrative pronoun. It stands alone.)
  • This policy may be harmful. (‘This policy’ = demonstrative adjective + noun)

Good academic writers often use demonstrative pronouns and adjectives to avoid repetition and wordiness, (writing too many words), and to create cohesion (unity) in and between paragraphs. Such cohesion can be created by referring to words, ideas or information…


  • But correspondents say that one thing that has not changed is the oblique language used by officials to inform the outside world about the meeting's outcome. This sometimes leads to confusion in key policy areas.

    (Here, the demonstrative pronoun ‘this’ refers to words ‘oblique language’ mentioned previously.)

  • LACs use such methods as collaborative groups, computer technology, and collective learning... (Enright, 1997).

    (Here, the demonstrative adjective ‘such’ refers to the words ‘methods as collaborative groups, computer technology and collective learning (Enright, 1997).

Achieving cohesion through referencing with demonstratives: 3 Techniques

Technique 1:

One simple way to achieve cohesion through referencing is to use personal pronouns (it, they, them) and demonstratives (this, these, those) to refer to previously mentioned words or ideas.

Consider the following examples:

  • Taiwan said that it would "defend its sovereignty over the archipelago."

    (‘it’ refers to ‘Taiwan’)

  • Japanese businessman Kunioki Kurihara owned three of the islands but sold them to the Japanese state in September 2012.  
  • (‘them’ refers to ‘three of the islands’.)

Technique 2:

Another more sophisticated and academic method of cohesive referencing is to use demonstrative pronouns (this, these) to refer to a previously mentioned idea.

Consider the following example:

In a bid to help people cope, Mr. Bhatia envisions a sophisticated system that collects information about all the different social networks someone has joined. This logs what they do and notes how they respond to the different types of messages, notifications, status changes, videos, images and links sent to them.

(Used with permission from the BBC:

Here, the demonstrative pronoun ‘this’ refers to the whole previously mentioned phrase ‘a sophisticated system that collects information about all the different social networks someone has joined’. (‘They’ and ‘them’ refer to ‘people’.)

Technique 3:

A final technique for creating cohesion through referencing is to use demonstrative adjectives with abstract nouns (‘this notion’, ‘these factors’, 'this advantage') to repeat or summarize a previously mentioned idea or statement.

Consider the following example:

Instead of driving back to the office, photographers can plug the camera's memory cards into their laptop computers, select and caption the images and transmit them by cell phone back to their publication's picture desk. This logistical advantage can work from the football stadium across town or from a news event in a foreign country.


Here, the demonstrative adjective ‘this’ + the abstract noun phrase ‘logistical advantage’ summarizes the entire advantage mentioned in the previous sentence. This technique of using demonstrative adjectives with summarizing synonyms unifies the ideas within the paragraph and creates cohesion.

These lexical and reference cohesion techniques are commonly found in academic texts as they provide clarity and reader-friendliness.

Carefully read the instructions before completing each task below.

Copyright© 2012-2013 UGC ICOSA Project, Hong Kong. All rights reserved.