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Forum Home > Level Two (Intermediate) Spanish > Here, there and everywhere - aquí, acá, allí, allá This, that, those - este, ese, aquel

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This, that, these, those .....

Demonstrative adjectives - what are they?

(not to be confused with demonstrative pronouns - click here to learn more about the difference)

Demonstrative adjectives (this, that, these, those) modify a noun by pointing it out and show whether the noun they refer to is singular or plural.  They also indicate the distance of the noun to the speaker or writer.

For example:  This cat is very friendly.                These cats are very friendly.

                          Este gato es muy simpático.        Estos gatos son muy simpáticos.

                          That cat is very friendly.                Those cats are very friendly.

                          Ese gato es muy simpático.         Esos gatos son muy simpáticos.

- Can you see how the sentences using 'this' and 'these' make the cats sound closer to the speaker when the words 'that' and 'those' are used?

There are three sets of demonstrative determiners in Spanish and they vary by number and gender: 


singular masculine

este (this)

ese (that)

aquel (that but further away in distance or time)

plural masculine

estos (these)

esos (those)

aquellos (those)

singular feminine

esta (this)

esa (that)

aquella (that)

plural feminine

estas (these)

esas (those)

aquellas (those)

singular neuter

esto (this)

eso (that)

aquello (that)

How far away are they?

Use este, esta, estos and estas to point out or refer to things that are physically or mentally close to the speaker, usually within easy reaching distance.  Or to refer to what has just been mentioned.

Use ese, esa, esos and esas to point out or refer to things that are further away from the speaker and closer to the person being spoken to or to refer to what had just been mentioned.   They corresponds to the English "that" or "those" and would be used under the same circumstances.

Use aquel, aquella, aquellos and aquellas  to point out or refer to things that are far away (either physically or mentally) from both the speaker and the listener.  They often corresponds to the English "that one (way) over there" or "those ones (way) over there" and would be used under the same circumstances.

Although both ese, esa, esos, esas and aquel, aquella, aquellos, aquellas can be translated as "that" or "those," ese and its related forms are more common.  Aquel and its related forms can only refer to something that's farther away in terms of distance or time.


Ese and its forms can at times be used for an object near the speaker or listener but aquel cannot.


Me gustan esos gatos.      I like those cats.


Me gustan aquellos gatos.    I like those cats over there.


No quiero esa casa. Quiero aquella casa.    I don't want that house. I want that house farther back.


Sometimes this distance relates not to inches or metres etc but instead to the amount of time that has passed.

For example:

Este vestido que llevo hoy es muy cómodo.

This dress t that I am wearing today is very comfortable.


Ese vestido que llevaba ayer era de lana.

That shirt that I was wearing yesterday was wool.

¿Recuerdas esos días? Do you remember those days?

¿Recuerdas aquellos días? Do you remember those days long ago?


When to use each one?


These demonstrative adjective often appear with matching words of distance (ie. demonstrative adjectives of location or place).

A good place to start is to learn these words of distance.


In English there are only two possible demonstrative distances:  'here' and 'there' but in Spanish there are three distances  'here', 'there' and 'far away'.

Aquí and acá mean = here

Ahí means =  there (close to the person to whom you're speaking)

Allí means = there

Allá means  =   (over) there (far away from both the speaker AND the other person)


If it seems a little confusing that there is more than one word meaning 'here' and more than one meaning 'there' - a good tip is that the words ending with í denote an exact location whereas á denotes a more "vague" or less specific location.

Aquí and acá usually appear with este, esta, estos, estas (this/these)


Ahí  and  Allí usually occur with ese, esa, esos, esas (that/those)


Allá usually appears with aquel, aquella, aquellos, aquellas (that/those)

Translating 'over there':  


Allá is usually the best translation for 'over there' as in 'in that direction' or 'in that place far away' .

The cake is over there.

La torta está allá.

Go and stand over there!

¡Ve y ponte allá!

For somewhere that's still 'over there' but it's a bit closer another possibility is 'ahí'.

I saw him standing (over) there looking at me.

Lo ví ahí parado mirándome.

Another way to translate 'over there' is to use 'aquel, aquella, aquellos & aquellas' where the concept of 'over there' is included.

Aquel chico.     That boy (over there).

Aquella niña está llorando.     That little girl (over there) is crying.

Aquella casa se está quemando.        That house (over there) is burning.



(or *demonstrative determiners)

Remember to must match the demonstrative adjectives to the noun in both number and gender.


Me gusta este gato. I like this cat.

Prefiero estas mesas. I prefer these tables.

Voy a comprar ese carro. I'm going to buy that car.

Me gustan aquellas casas. I like those houses.


When two or more items are in a series, the demonstrative adjective must be used with each item.

While in English we would say "those tables and chairs" in Spanish you would have to say "esas mesas y esas sillas. 








NB:    Don't confuse demonstrative pronouns with demonstrative adjectives. They are identical, but a demonstrative pronoun stands alone, while a demonstrative adjective qualifies a noun.


That tastes delicious. (demonstrative pronoun)

That book is good. (demonstrative adjective + noun)


When to use the neuter forms esto and eso:


These pronouns are never used to replace a specific noun. Instead you use them to refer to an unknown object or to something abstract such as an idea or concept that isn't specifically named.

Eg. The use of eso is extremely common to refer to a situation that has just been stated.


El papá de Julio murió. Por eso, está triste. Julie's dad died. Because of that, he's sad.

¡Eso es horrible! – That is horrible!


¡Esto es genial! – This is great!

Other neuter concepts might be needs, behaviours, thoughts or ideas etc.

Tenemos que salir a las ocho. No olvida eso. We have to leave at eight. Don't forget that.

¿Por qué estás haciendo esto? – Why are you doing this?

¡Eso es! – That’s it (that’s the one!)*

NB. If you want to refer to a neutral concept but in a plural form just use the normal plural masculine form.


We hope the article was helpful - if you would like to leave a comment about it or if you noticed any errors please leave your comments in our FEEDBACK section we'd love to hear from you.  Just make sure you're registered and logged in and then click the link above to make a new post. :)



Time to test your knowledge!

Post your answers here if you would like them to be checked :)

1)     This cat.       _______  gato.

2)     This cat.       _______  gata.

3)     This book.   _______  libro1.

4)     These books.   ________ libros.

5)     These girls.      ________ muchachas.

6)     That table.       ________ mesa.

7)     That table (way over) there.    ________  mesa ________.

8 )    This table here.                         ________  mesa ________.

9)     I like that boy there.                   Me gusta ______ chico _______.

10)   Look at that tree over there.    Mira ______  arbol  _______.

11)   That book is mine, but that one over there is hers.

  ____ libro es mío, pero _____  (choose between este and aquel) es suyo.

12)   Give two different translations of:    That house over there.



May 16, 2012 at 3:51 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1

Welcome to our website Luke - great to have you here!  :)  Wow and nearly perfect - not bad for a first post!  Siga así - keep up the good work!

1)     This cat.      Este gato.

2)     This cat.       Esta  gata.

3)     This book.   Este  libro.

4)     These books.   Estos libros.

5)     These girls.      Estas muchachas.

6)     That table.       Esa mesa.

7)     That table (way over) there.   Aquella mesa allá.

8 )    This table here.                         Esta mesa aquí.

9)     I like that boy there.                   Me gusta ese chico allí.

10)   Look at that tree over there.    Mira aquel arbol allí.    remember aquel usually goes with allá ;)

11)   That book is mine, but that one over there is hers.

  Ese libro es mío, pero aquel es suyo.

12)   Give two different translations of:    That house over there.

i) Esa casa allí
ii)Aquella casa allá

Phew, that took me a while! Haha. :)
May 17, 2012 at 4:53 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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