Demonstrative Pronouns in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

The demonstrative pronouns in Spanish grammar are este, ese and aquel which also have a feminine and plural form. We use demonstratives to identify a person, animal or thing and its distance from the speaker. While English grammar has two degrees of distance: this and that. Spanish grammar has three: aquí (here), ahí (there) and allí (up/down/over there).

Learn about demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in Spanish grammar and get tips on how and when to use them. Then put your knowledge to the test in the exercises.

Example

Cuando era pequeña vi un partido de tenis en la televisión. Aquella noche soñé que era una jugadora de tenis famosa. Desde entonces, voy a clases de tenis. El jueves entrené mucho. Ese día se me rompió la raqueta.

Quiero comprarme una raqueta porque esta semana tengo un torneo.

- ¿Cuánto cuesta esta raqueta?

- Cuesta 149 €.

- ¿Y esa de la pared?

- Cuesta 199 €.

- Creo que me gusta más aquella raqueta que está colgada al fondo.

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Usage

Demonstrative pronouns can be spatial, referring to location, or temporal, referring to time.

In English, we only differentiate between this, close to the speaker, and that, furrther away from the speaker. In Spanish, however, there are three levels of physical distance: este, ese, aquel.

  • The demonstrative pronoun este/esta/estos/estas is comparable to this: when something is located close to the speaker, either physically or in time. We use this pronoun in the same situation as the local adverb aquí, which means here.
    Example:
    ¿Cuánto cuesta esta raqueta? How much does this racket cost?
    Esta semana tengo un torneo. This week I have a tournament.
  • When something is not as close to the speaker but also not too far away, we use ese/esa/esos/esas. This is comparable to that. We use this pronoun in the same situation as the local adverb ahí, which means there.
    Example:
    ¿Cuánto cuesta esa de la pared? How much does that one on the wall cost?
  • When something is far away from the speaker, we use aquel/aquella/aquellos/aquellas. This is also similar to that. We use this pronoun in the same situation as the local adverb allí, which is comparable to (way) over there.
    Example:
    Creo que me gusta más aquella raqueta que está colgada al fondo.I think I like the racket that’s hanging all the way back there the best.

In reference to time, este refers to the present and ese and aquel refer to past events.

Example:
Esta semana tengo un torneo.This week I have a tournament.
El jueves entrené mucho. Ese día se me rompió la raqueta.On Thursday I practised a lot. My racket broke on that day.
Cuando era pequeña vi un partido de tenis en la televisión. Aquella noche soñé que era una jugadora de tenis famosa.When I was little, I saw a tennis match on television. That night I dreamed about being a famous tennis player.

Spanish Demonstrative Pronoun Forms

person demonstrative adjectives demonstrative pronoun
aquí ahí allí aquí ahí allí
masculine singular este ese aquel este ese aquel
plural estos esos aquellos estos esos aquellos
feminine singular esta esa aquella esta esa aquella
plural estas esas aquellas estas esas aquellas
neutral
- - - esto eso aquello

Demonstrative Adjective

Demonstrative adjectives, or determinantes demostrativos, always come directly before a noun and agrees with it in gender and number.

Example:
¿Cuánto cuesta esta raqueta?How much does this racket cost?

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns, or pronombres demostrativos, replace a previously-mentioned noun.

Example:
La raqueta que quiero es aquella.The racket that I want is that one over there.
¿Cuál te gusta más? - Esa de ahí. Which one do you like best? That one over there.

To Note

In the old days, demonstrative adjectives were written with an accent:

Example:
éste, ésas, aquél...

Nowadays this accent (tilde diacrítica) is no longer used on demonstrative adjectives (see the recommendation of the Real Academia de la Lengua Española, point 5).

Indefinite Form

The indefinite form refers to an entire clause. We express this similarly in English.

Example:
Eso es muy interesante. That is very interesting.