A Simple Guide to Demonstrative Pronouns in Spanish
Demonstrative pronouns in Spanish are very useful if you want to get your skills closer to the native level.
Every day, when we speak, we communicate in the most efficient way. We don’t repeat the words we have already said, we point to things that can be simply shown instead of being described. And this is where demonstrative pronouns in Spanish came in handy.
I’ll tell you what demonstrative pronouns are, how many there are, and obviously, how to use them correctly. I will give you enough examples to dispel all your doubts. In the end, you’ll also have an opportunity to try yourself out.
What are Demonstrative Pronouns in Spanish and English?
Demonstrative pronouns are pronouns used to demonstrate, show, or indicate something to the person you’re speaking to. And what are pronouns? Words that replace a noun. If you need a more complex explanation, check out Spanish Pronouns.
In English, if I ask you, “Which book do you want?” and show you two, you’ll probably answer “this one” and point towards the one you have just chosen. You don’t have to repeat the word book, and I still get what you mean.
These are demonstrative pronouns. Instead of repeating the noun over and over again, you substitute it with “this one” or “that one”.
If you’re already familiar with demonstrative adjectives, you surely remember that the English language locates things close or far in space and time, but Spanish speakers use more distinctions: close, far, or very far.
That’s why in English, we only have 4 demonstrative pronouns: this, that, these, and those. “This” and “that” refer to singular nouns and “these” and “those” point to plural nouns.
Demonstrative pronouns in Spanish need to agree with the noun not only in number but also in gender, you’ll find some more forms to learn.
Demonstrative Pronouns in Spanish
I’ll show you now 15 demonstrative pronouns. It looks like a big number, but because we can assign them all into three categories depending on the distance from the speaker, you’ll find them easy to learn.
|este, esta, esto, estos, estas||this (close)|
|ese, esa, eso, esos, esas||that (far)|
|aquel, aquella, aquello, aquellos, aquellas||that (very far)|
Wait! Aren’t they the same ones as demonstrative adjectives? Good point, but not exactly. If you have another look, you’ll find three forms that didn’t appear inside the “demonstrative pronouns” group: esto, eso, aquello.
These three, are neutral in gender, they do not change for number, and they indicate abstract ideas or unknown objects.
Esto siempre me incomoda.
This always makes me uncomfortable.
Eso no fue lo que te pedí.
That’s not what I asked you for.
Aquello no se pudo hacer.
That could not be done.
One more thing, before I show you all 15 demonstrative pronouns in Spanish in detail. In the past, you had to use accent marks over demonstrative pronouns to distinguish them from demonstrative adjectives. However, la RAE, Real Academia de la Lengua Española, eliminated the accent marks over demonstrative pronouns in 2010.
They decided that because the accents in these words were against the accent rules, and it is obvious from the context if you are using them as adjectives or pronouns, the accents were ruled unnecessary.
That’s why now you don’t have to remember if you need to put the accent mark over demonstrative pronouns. However, don’t be surprised if you find them written with one. Some people still prefer to distinguish them this way from demonstrative adjectives.
Remember that demonstrative pronouns in Spanish indicate how far the indicated object is from the speaker, and/or the person you’re talking to. The distance refers both to physical space and time.
Este shows things that are close both to the person that is speaking and the one who is the receiver of the message.
Imagine that your friends just bought a box of delicious and fancy chocolates and triumphantly put this variety in front of you. You have to choose.
-¿Cuál quieres primero?
-Which one you want first?
There is no need to mention the word chocolate. The demonstrative pronoun este, that agrees with the word chocolate both in gender (masculine) and number (singular) is enough to announce your decision.
Here are the five forms according to gender and number.
|masculine singular||este (this)|
|masculine plural||estos (these)|
|feminine singular||esta (this)|
|feminine plural||estas (these)|
Check out these examples:
Mira las flores. Qué pena que estas ya se murieron.
Look at the flowers. What a pity that these have already died.
Me encantan todos los helados pero estos son los que quiero ahora.
I love all ice creams but these are the ones I want now.
No quiero este, ya te dije que no me gusta el color.
I don’t want this one, I already told you I don’t like the color.
Definitivamente esta es la mejor opción.
This is definitely the best option.
¿Qué opinas de esto?
What do you think about this?
The next in order of the demonstrative pronouns in Spanish, increasing the distance, is ese.
Ese points to things that are further from the speaker, not within immediate reach. However, they can be close to the person you’re talking to.
Imagine you’re in a small shop and you want to ask the person behind the counter to give you a carton of milk.
–Me puede dar un cartón de leche, por favor.
–Can you pass me a carton of milk, please?
–Not, that one.
The seller is using este because milk is close to him, you are using ese because it’s not so close to you, but still near the seller.
There are also five forms of ese depending on the gender and number.
|masculine singular||ese (that)|
|masculine plural||esos (those)|
|feminine singular||esa (that)|
|feminine plural||esas (those)|
¿Cuál libro quieres que te baje de aquí? Ese.
Which book do you want me to pass you down there? That one.
Esa es la que me gustó más. ¡Qué chica!
That’s the girl I liked most. What a girl!
Eso no fue lo que te quise decir.
That was not what I wanted to say.
¿Te acuerdas de nuestros vecinos del año pasado? Esos sí tenían dinero.
Do you remember our neighbors last year? Those did have money.
No sé cuáles manzanas quiero. Mejor esas, se ven más ricas.
I don’t know which apples I want. Better those, they look richer.
Aquel is the one of demonstrative pronouns in Spanish that indicates the greatest distance in time and space. Things are far away from both the speaker and the person you’re talking to. We translate it with “that” but it rather means “that over there”.
–Mira los pájaros. ¡Cómo vuelan!
–Look at the birds. How they fly!
–Those over there.
You can also use aquel to talk about things distant in time.
–¿Te acuerdas de esas casa chistosas en la calle donde vivía de niña?
–¿Las que tenían los techos verdes?
–Do you remember those funny houses in the street where I lived when I was little?
–The ones that had green roofs?
–yes, those ones.
Let’s have a look at the aquel forms:
|masculine singular||aquel (that “over there”)|
|masculine plural||aquellos (those “over there”)|
|feminine singular||aquella (that “over there”)|
|feminine plural||aquellas (those “over there”)|
|neutral||aquello (that “over there”)|
Check out how you use aquel forms in sentences:
¿Cuál montaña te parece la más bonita? Aquella
Which mountain do you think is the most beautiful? That one.
Te acuerdas de Pedro y Juan de nuestra escuela? Aquellos siempre peleaban.
Do you remember Pedro and Juan from our school? Those ones always fought.
Aquel nunca me dio la oportunidad que me merecía.
That one never gave me the opportunity that I deserved.
Aquellas eran las verdaderas campeonas.
Those were the true champions.
Aquello no fue justo.
That was not fair.
Are you still doubting about the difference between ese and aquel? Read the section Ese vs Aquel in a Comprehensive Lesson on Demonstrative Adjectives. The distinction works exactly the same with demonstrative pronouns.
Now, try yourself out and substitute the bold part with a demonstrative pronoun in Spanish. Mind the number and gender.
- No me gusta que me digas que tengo que hacer.
- Me voy a comprar los zapatos que están aquí.
- Las chicas de allí no me caen bien.
- Las naranjas de México son más ricas que las de aquí.
- Me puedes pasar los crayones que están al lado de ti, por favor?
- Me encantó lo que le dijiste ayer.
- ¿Qué es lo que estoy viendo?
- No me agrada el tipo al lado de María.
- Quiero ponerme el color que tú tienes en las uñas.
- Lo que hice de niña fue una locura.
Click here for the translation of the questions and the answer key.
Great job! You spend a part of your precious free time improving your Spanish and you learned a lot about demonstrative pronouns in Spanish. An important skill for your survival in a Spanish-speaking world.
Do you feel like practicing more? Sign up for a free class with our professional native teachers from Guatemala and take your demonstrative pronouns in Spanish to the next level.
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- Esas / aquellas (depends on the distance)
- Ese / aquel (depends on the distance)
- I don’t like you telling me what to do.
- I’m going to buy the shoes that are here.
- I don’t like the girls there.
- The oranges from Mexico are richer than those from here.
- Can I have the crayons that are next to you, please?
- I loved what you told him yesterday.
- What am I seeing?
- I don’t like the guy next to María.
- I want to wear the color that you have on your nails.
- What I did as a child was crazy.
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