Demonstrative pronounsThe pronouns (from Latin pronounce) They are a word type that it lacks a fixed referent, since it is determined according to the relationship that it establishes with other words already named. A pronoun, therefore, can act as noun and refer to extralinguistic people, objects or things.

The demonstrative pronouns are those who meet a deictic or demonstrative function; that is, they allow distinguishing and naming elements that have already been mentioned previously (without the need to repeat them). These pronouns are classified according to degree of distance that they have with the indicated object.

The demonstrative pronouns of the first degree indicate a closeness of the aforementioned with respect to the issuer (“this”, “these”, “this”, “is”, “are”). For instance: “This (car) is badly parked”, “This is very tasty”, “These (sandals) match your red pants”, “These (books) look very old”, “This (tray) belonged to my grandmother”.

The demonstrative pronouns of the second degree, instead, express the closeness of what is indicated with respect to the receiver (“that”, “that”, “this”, “those”, “those”): “Give me that, please”, “That (phone) belongs to José”, “I would like to buy one of those (houses)”, “Those (lanterns) illuminate little”.

The third degree demonstrative pronounsFinally, they denote closeness for the sender and the receiver (“that”, “that”, “that”, “those”, “those”): “That (painting) was painted by Monet”, “That (door) is not properly closed”, “Those seem used”.

All demonstrative pronouns can be combined with the term “everything” and its variants to form prayers: “This is all very weird”, “All those are in promotion”.

It should be noted that, when the noun is made explicit, the pronoun ceases to function as such and begins to consider you as a adjective: “That is mine” (pronoun), “That notebook is mine” (adjective).

Changes to accentuation rules

Demonstrative pronounsUntil a few years ago, according to spelling rules of accentuation, both the adverb “only” and the demonstrative pronouns had to carry an accent to distinguish them from the adjective “only” and the demonstrative determiners, respectively, to avoid possible confusion within the same context.

Let’s take the following sentence to present an example in which the absence of the tilde can create ambiguity:

“I study only on Mondays and Thursdays”. In this case, the word “only” has the same meaning and function as “only”; It is an adverb and it had an accent to avoid that the sentence is interpreted as that whoever enunciates it studies only, without company, on Mondays and Thursdays, which would also imply that the rest of the days he studies together with other people. In short, the use of the accent mark, previously mandatory, helps considerably to avoid misinterpretations.

Turning to the demonstrative pronouns, a situation similar to the previous one can be seen in the following sentence:

“Where do you buy these old books?”. Here the confusion can be even greater, since this is an example that relies heavily on intonation to be understood correctly. The word “these” is the subject of the sentence, and thanks to the accent it is clear that it is not an adjective that modifies “old books”; In short, the question tries to find out “where do these subjects buy old books” and not, “where do they buy these old books.”

Recently, the Royal Spanish Academy published an article in which it recommended to leave the accent in disuse in the exposed cases, relying on the rules of accentuation, since most of the pronouns are plain words ending in a vowel or in s (like only), and on the other hand is the case of that, sharp word ending in l. Following, therefore, the classic norms that so many of us sing as children, we must ignore semantics and, to avoid incurring a fault with the authorities of the language, leave the task of reading between the lines to the readers to interpret properly our texts.