How to Teach This and That, These and Those

A teacher asked me today how to teach this and that, these and those. Teaching this and that, these and those is easy and fun. You need plenty of real objects to hand to demonstrate the concepts of singular and plural and also distance.

Start by introducing the meaning of this and that by demonstration with real objects. Don’t move on to plurals right away, teach in stages so your students don’t have too much to take on at once.


The main concept here is distance. This is close and that is far. Demonstrate this using real objects around you. Use only vocabulary the students already know, which is useful revision, so that only the words “this” and “that” are new. Point at a chair that is close to you, stand right next to it and touch it. Point to a chair that is far away saying “that chair”. Switch to this pen and that pen. This shoe and that shoe. This nose and that nose. This window and that window. Go through pencil case items, items on the desks, furniture in the room, posters on the walls, clothing and body parts. Those are all things you are likely to have around you. Each time you say “this” make sure you are TOUCHING the item to make it clear you are close. And each time you say “that” make sure you are quite far away to demonstrate the distance.

Call out “this pen” and have students hold up a pen and point at it, the one in their hand and say “this pen”. Call out “that door” and have students point to the door and say “that door”. Continue like this until most of the students have become quite good at it. As students improve switch faster and faster between different objects.

Students follow you pointing at the correct objects either near or far. They will find it fun as long as you move along at a good pace and don’t drag it out. Start with “this pen, that pen”, “this book, that book”, “this shoe, that shoe”. Then mix up the nouns: “this shoe, that book, this nose, that shirt, that nose, that door, this eye”. Bring up your best students and let them call things out to the class. That challenges them as they have to think of things for the others to point to which prevents them from becoming bored in the lesson if they are better than the others.

Make it more complicated if the students are doing very well by adding in adjectives such as “this red book, that blue shirt”.

Introduce these and those in the same way.

Put the children in pairs now and call out “this pen” and “these pens”. The students put their pens together so they are close and point at them. For “those pens” all students hold their pens together while pointing at someone else’s pens. It will be fun when you do “these noses” and “those legs” and so on because students have to move to get the objects really close. Obviously you have to gauge if getting close to someone else’s nose is appropriate for your class – the adults will not enjoy it but most children will find it fun. Adults can gesture without touching.

Play music while children pass pens and books around the classroom. When the music stops call out “these pens” and any children with a pen jump up and move over to someone else with a pen to show “these pens”. Play the music again and call out “those books”. Any students with books jump up, put at least two books together, and everyone points to them from a distance. Play the music, students pass their objects. Stop the music and call out “these eyes” – ALL students must point at their eyes. And so on.

All the best