Spanish Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are those which are used to point things out, or “demonstrate” them. In English, these are “this”, “that”, “these”, and “those”. These are generally easy to use, but Spanish adds one layer of difficulty with its use of the mysterious “aquel”…

 

The forms of Spanish demonstrative pronouns are almost exactly the same as the demonstrative adjectives, so you’ll have no problem using these if you have already learnt the adjectives. Unlike adjectives, the demonstrative pronouns don’t follow a noun (as they already stand in for one). Usually, the noun to which they refer is either implied, or mentioned earlier in the sentence, for example: “Of all the things you said, this is the worst”.

Let’s take a quick look at them:

Masculine Feminine Neuter Meaning
Singular Este Esta Esto This, this one
Ese Esa Eso That, that one
Aquel Aquella Aquello That, that one (further away)
Plural Estos Estas n/a These, these ones
Esos Esas Those, those ones
Aquellos Aquellas Those, those ones (further away)

Accents

You’ll sometimes see the demonstrative pronouns used with accents (e.g. “éste”). This is a way of distinguishing them from the demonstrative adjectives (“este abrigo es tuyo” vs “éste es tu abrigo”). However, its use has declined, and it is now acceptable not to use the accents.

Using demonstrative adjectives

The demonstrative pronouns in Spanish have to agree in both gender and number with the noun that they stand in for, even if the noun is not mentioned:

Prefiero mi coche a ese → I prefer my car to that one

Quiero estas tortas, no quiero esas  → I want these cakes, I don’t want those ones

Estos son mis preferidos → These ones are my favourites

Esta es la última vez → This is the last time

Aquel

“Aquel” adds the meaning of “further away”. In English, it’s the difference between “that one there”, and “that one over there”:

Nuestra casa es aquella → Our house is that one over there

Neuter: “Esto”

The use of the neuter form (“esto”, “estos”, “eso”, “esos”) is one difference between Spanish demonstrative pronouns and adjectives. The neuter form is used when “this” or “that” refers to a noun which is neither masculine nor feminine. As with neuter possessive pronouns, these tend to be generalisations and abstract concepts:

Esto es lo que más me gusta de tí → This is what I most like about you

Eso es muy bonito → That is very nice