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Understanding Demonstrative Adjectives in Spanish

written by: djthyberg • edited by: Tricia Goss • updated: 4/5/2012

An adjective modifies the meaning of a noun. For example, "the glass table". Here, "glass" tells us characteristics of the "table" in a descriptive way. This article covers the details regarding demonstrative adjectives in Spanish

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    What Is a Demonstrative Adjective?

    What makes a demonstrative adjective different from a regular adjective is that it indicates precisely which person, place or thing is being referred to. For example, instead of describing the table's glassiness, we can refer to it with reference to the person being spoken to. We can say, "this table", which is near us both, "that table", which is only near you, but not me, or "that table over there", which is far from both of us.

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    Referring to Something Near the Speaker & the Person Being Spoken To

    Masculine Singular: este (this)

    Feminine Singular: esta (this)

    Masculine Plural: estos (these)

    Feminine Plural: estas (these)

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    Referring to Something Near the Person Being Spoken to

    Masculine Singular: ese (that)

    Feminine Singular: esa (that)

    Masculine Plural: esos (those)

    Feminine Plural: esas (those)

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    Referring to Something Distant From the Speaker & the Person Being Spoken to

    Masculine Singular: aquel (that)

    Feminine Singular: aquella (that)

    Masculine Plural: aquellos (those)

    Feminine Plural: aquellas (those)

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    Examples

    • Hace dos años que vivo en este departamento. (I've lived in this apartment for two years.)

    • Ese tipo nunca va a cambiar la idea. (That guy is never going to change his mind.)
    • En aquella época, las cosas eran diferentes. (Back then, things were different.)

    • Me encontraré contigo en aquel café donde te vi la semana pasada. (I'll meet you in that cafe where I saw you last week.)

    • En este momento, no me siento bien. (At this moment, I don't feel well.)
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    Notes

    Notice how demonstrative adjectives "demonstrate" the location of the thing being referred to in relation to the speaker and the person being spoken to. Let's not forget that the verb "mostrar", which means "to show" is at the heart of the word "demostrativo" (demonstrative).

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    Related Expressions

    Make sure you don't confuse demonstrative "adjectives" with demonstrative "pronouns". For example, "no puedo aceptar ESO" (I can't accept THAT). Here, the word "eso" is actually taking the place of what I can't accept so it is a pronoun. So, if it were "un regalo" (a gift), "no puedo aceptar eso" would be the pronominal form of "no puedo aceptar el regalo".