A Guide to Demonstrative Adjectives & Pronouns in Spanish

Demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns in Spanish are a fundamental part of the language. You need to learn them in order to cover all the basics since these are words that you’ll find in every conversation. But you may be wondering, what are Spanish demonstrative adjectives and pronouns?

Spanish demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns describe how far something or someone is from the speaker. They refer to a physical or temporal distance. Demonstrative adjectives come before a noun, while demonstrative pronouns replace it. They can be translated as ‘this’, ‘these, ‘that’ and ‘those’. 

Yes, Spanish demonstratives may sound a little bit confusing since they both share similarities. But don’t stress yourself about it because in this article I’ll explain in detail how to use demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns in Spanish by showing you examples and phrase structures to help you create your own sentences.

What Are Demonstratives and What They Are Used For

The purpose of using demonstrative words in Spanish is to give information about the distance between the thing that is being talked about and the speaker. This can be either a physical or temporal distance. Cool, right?

graphic showing what demonstrative adjectives and pronouns are

Depending on whether they’re accompanying the noun or substituting it, Spanish demonstratives can be classified as an adjective or a pronoun.

Voy a comprar este libro.
I’m going to buy this book.

Me gusta esta blusa y a Karla le gusta aquella
I like this blouse and Karla likes that one

En aquella época, no todos tenían televisión. 
At that time, not everyone had a TV. 

¿De verdad? Creo que este suena más interesante.
Really? I think this one sounds more interesting.

As you can see, these words have the same purpose. But if this is the case, then, what’s the difference between demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in Spanish?

The difference between demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in Spanish is that a demonstrative adjective is useful when you need to specify what you’re talking about, whereas a demonstrative pronoun is useful in contexts where the noun is already implied and there’s no need to mention it again.

Check these examples:

Esta pasta está riquísima, pero aquella está malísima.
This pasta is delicious, but that one is terrible.

Me he sentido muy bien estos días.
I’ve been feeling really good these days.

Esto es una falta de respeto.
This is disrespectful.

Este me gusta más que aquel.
I like this one more than that one.

Check example #1. Esta is a demonstrative adjective that shows what pasta we’re referring to (this). Aquella is a demonstrative pronoun because it helps us avoid repeating the object that we’re talking about (pasta).

Take Note: Since they describe the distance between the speaker and something, Spanish demonstratives are usually related to adverbs of place such as ‘aquí’, ‘allá’ and ‘allí’. 

How to Use Demonstrative Adjectives in Spanish

As you know, an adjective describes a noun. In other words, it gives you extra information about the qualities of the noun. In this case, demonstrative adjectives tell you where that noun is located in relation to the speaker. Based on how big this distance is, Spanish adjectives are:

Spanish Demonstrative AdjectiveEnglish Distance
Este, Esta, EstoThisVery Close
Estos, EstasThese
Eso, EsaThatNear
Esos, EsasThose
Aquel, Aquella, AquelloThatFar
Aquellos, AquellasThose

Choosing the correct demonstrative adjective in Spanish depends on how far something is from the speaker. In other words: 

  • ‘Este’, ‘esta’, ‘estos’, and ‘estas’ are nearby demonstrative adjectives. 
  • ‘Ese’ along with its plural and feminine forms indicate that the noun is at medium distance.  
  • ‘Aquel’, ‘aquella’, ‘aquellos’, and ‘aquellas’ are demonstrative adjectives for things that are far away

Just like in English, Spanish demonstrative adjectives are used before a noun. But, remember that in Spanish, most nouns are gendered and they can be singular or plural, so the demonstrative adjective will have to match that. Here are some examples:

Demonstrative adjective + [noun] + [complement]

Estos zapatos están viejos.
These shoes are old.

Ese vestido es de mi mamá.
That dress is my mom’s.

¿Conoces a estas bandas?
Do you know these bands?

Esta semana tengo mucha tarea.
This week I have a lot of homework. 

Perdóname, ese día estaba muy ocupada. 
Sorry, we were very busy that day

As mentioned before, demonstrative adjectives in Spanish are great to measure a physical distance. But you can also use them to express the amount of time between the moment of speaking and when something happened. 

Check examples #4 and #5. In example #4, we use the present tense because ‘esta semana’ is very close to the moment of speaking. However, ‘ese día’ refers to a day that took place in the past. 

Take Note: ‘este’ is a time marker for tenses such as the present and present perfect. On the other hand, ‘eso’ and ‘aquel’ express a bigger distance from the speaker and, as a result, they’re used as time markers for the preterite and the imperfect.  

What Are Demonstrative Pronouns in Spanish?

Spanish demonstrative pronouns are placed instead of a noun. This means that, in order to use them, people must have previous knowledge of what you’re talking about. Using demonstrative pronouns works really well to shorten sentences and helps you avoid being repetitive. 

In the table below, you can see the Spanish demonstrative pronouns. 

Spanish Demonstrative PronounEnglish Distance
Este, Esta, EstoThisVery Close
Estos, EstasThese
Eso, EsaThatNear
Esos, EsasThose
Aquel, Aquella, AquelloThatFar
Aquellos, AquellasThose

Again, when it comes to choosing the best pronoun, you need to understand how far the object or person is from the speaker. 

[Demonstrative pronoun] + [complement]

Esto no está bien.
This is not right.

¿Esa es tu hermana?
Is that your sister?

¿Cuál es tu postre? El mío es este.
What’s your favorite pastry? Mine is this one.

Mi prima pidió esa pizza, yo voy a pedir esta.
My cousin ordered that pizza, I will order this one.

Take Note: on top of the feminine and masculine demonstrative pronouns, we have the neutral pronouns ‘esto’ and ‘eso’ and ‘aquello’ which are used to refer to general situations that do not have a specific gender. Neutral pronouns are only used for things and in the singular form.

Eso no funciona.
That doesn’t work.

Esto cuesta mil pesos y aquello cuesta dos mil.
This costs a thousand pesos and that costs two thousand. 

Wrapping Up

As you already saw, demonstrative adjectives and pronouns in Spanish are extremely useful and common. Adding them to your vocabulary will show fluency since you’ll be able to be more accurate when referring to objects and will help you to avoid being repetitive.

Here are some of the key point you need to keep in mind:

  • Demonstratives in Spanish provide information about the distance between the speaker and something or someone else.
  • Demonstrative adjectives are placed before the noun.
  • Demonstrative pronouns substitute the noun.
  • ‘Este’, ‘esta’, ‘esto’ and their plural forms indicate that something or someone is very close to the speaker.
  • ‘Ese’, ‘esa’, ‘eso’ and their plural forms indicate that the noun is near the speaker.
  • ‘Aquel’, ‘aquella’, ‘aquello’ and their plural forms indicate a long distance.

Hopefully, estas palabras aren’t an issue for you anymore! Now, it’s time to start using them in your conversations. 

Daniela Sanchez

¡Hola! Soy Daniela Sanchez, I’ve taught Spanish in Mexico to a wide array of foreigners. From students and tourists to doctors and soldiers who’ve moved and visited here over the years. During the day I’m a freelancer and marketer, while at night I’m here writing for students of the world wide web looking to learn Spanish. I hope you find what you’re looking here during your journey into Español 🙂 Read More About Me

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