If you’ve ever paused mid-sentence, unsure whether to say ‘este‘ or ‘ese‘, then you know the slight hiccup demonstrative adjectives Spanish can cause in your language flow. With this guide, we’re cutting through the confusion and putting the power of clear communication in your hands. First, let’s watch how Paulísima from Spring Spanish (a project I co-founded) explains the question of this & that in Spanish:
Packed with straightforward charts and examples that you’ll actually use, we’re keeping it simple and practical. Get ready for a lightbulb moment as you see how naturally Spanish demonstrative adjectives can fit into your conversations.
Let’s jump right in and sharpen up your Spanish together—read on to master the little words that make a big impact!
1. What are demonstrative adjectives Spanish?
When you use the word “this” in English, you are using a demonstrative adjective to indicate something that is close by.
In Spanish, there are three sets of demonstrative adjectives:
- este (close to the speaker),
- ese (away from the speaker and possibly close to the listener), and
- aquel (that’s very far from both the speaker and the listener).
2. Singular demonstrative adjectives Spanish – Chart
|that over there
These adjectives in Spanish must agree in gender and number with the noun they modify and are placed before the noun.
The use of the right demonstrative adjective would depend on the relation to the speaker.
“Este libro” (this book) implies the book is within reach or on the same side of the room as the speaker.
Here are some sample sentences to see everything in real-life examples:
- Este perro es muy amigable. (This dog is very friendly.)
- Esa mesa está rota. (That table is broken.)
- Aquella casa parece antigua. (That house over there looks old.)
3. Plural demonstrative adjectives Spanish – Chart
|those over there
When referring to plural nouns, the plural form of the demonstrative adjectives is used. They still need to match the gender and number of the noun they’re used with.
Here are example sentences:
- Estos zapatos son cómodos. (These shoes are comfortable.)
- Esas flores son hermosas. (Those flowers are beautiful.)
- Aquellos árboles son altos. (Those trees over there are tall.)
4. What are demonstrative pronouns in Spanish?
Pronouns are used to avoid repetition and keep sentences succinct. The Spanish language has specific forms for these pronouns.
5. Singular demonstrative pronouns in Spanish
|that one over there
In sentences, demonstrative pronouns replace the noun and often come after the verb. Here are example sentences:
- Prefiero éste. (I prefer this one.)
- ¿Viste ésa? (Did you see that one?)
- Aquél es el mayor. (That one over there is the oldest.)
6. Plural demonstrative pronouns in Spanish
|those ones over there
These pronouns are used to refer to a specific noun or nouns that have been mentioned before or are understood by the speaker and listener.
Here’s how they are used in sentences:
- Compré estos libros, pero éstos son mejores. (I bought these books, but these ones are better.)
- No quiero ésas, prefiero estas otras. (I don’t want those, I prefer these others.)
- De todos los problemas, aquéllos son los peores. (Of all the problems, those over there are the worst.)
7. Demonstrative adjectives in Spanish vs Demonstrative pronouns in Spanish
Spanish demonstratives include demonstrative adjectives and demonstrative pronouns, which can look very similar but play different roles in sentences.
Demonstrative adjectives are used to modify a noun directly and are always placed before the noun.
“Ese coche” (that car) uses “ese” as an adjective to describe a specific car.
In contrast, demonstrative pronouns replace a noun that’s already been mentioned.
They must agree with the noun in gender and number, just like the adjectives but often carry an accent mark, which is crucial in writing.
- “Prefiero ese coche. ¿Y tú? ¿Cuál prefieres?” (I prefer that car. And you? Which one do you prefer?).
The response could be:
- “Prefiero ése” (I prefer that one) – where “ése” is a demonstrative pronoun.
Let’s look at a real-life conversation. If you’re shopping for a shirt and the seller asks?
- “¿Cuál camisa te gusta más?” (Which shirt do you like more?)
You might reply with an adjective:
- “Me gusta más esta camisa” (I like this shirt more),
or if pointing to a shirt on a mannequin, you might use a pronoun:
- “Me gusta más ésa” (I like that one more).
8. Practice worksheet – Spanish demonstrative adjectives and pronouns
I. Fill in the blanks with the correct demonstrative adjective in Spanish according to the context.
This is just one of our exercises of… well, a lot! We have a Practice Worksheet Library full of exercises for Spanish and other languages! Make sure to click the button below and get access to it!
9. Learn how to use demonstrative adjectives with Conversation Based Chunking
Learning about demonstrative adjectives in Spanish is often a struggle that can be made simpler by employing Conversation Based Chunking. This method is about understanding and practicing languages in chunks – words and phrases as they are used in everyday conversation.
Instead of memorizing rules, you could learn the phrase “este libro” in the context of a bookstore conversation, so you remember that “este” is the masculine singular form used when the object is close. With regular exposure and practice of these phrases in real-life scenarios, you can use them like a native without second-guessing whether you have chosen the right word.
Understanding and using Spanish demonstrative adjectives and pronouns correctly is a significant step towards fluency. So next time you’re gesturing towards something you want, you’ll impress with the perfect “ese” or “esta” – and feel a little more Spanish while you’re at it.