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Rexy
28-09-2011, 00:07
Please, help me to clear up.

When i question:

What is this?

How is it better to answer?

This is a bus. That is a bus. or It is a bus.?

In the Grammarway 1 it is written when we ask "What is/are this/that/these/those?" The answer can be only "It is/They are".

In the Internet i've found such an explanation:

Remember that demonstratives are used in reference to the speaker. (What is near "you" may not be near "me" and vice versa.)

A: What's that you're holding?

B: This is an egg. Here, catch!


A: What are these (holding up a pair of slippers)

B: Those are slippers.

Is it incorrect to answer the question "What are those?" with "Those are walls." or "What is that?" with "That's a ceiling"?

alouette
28-09-2011, 00:24
http://esl.about.com/od/thebasics/a/this_that_these_those_determiners.htm

Tony P
28-09-2011, 01:31
Gor blimey!

Being fundamentally English born and bred, it's hard for me to know what the rules are, but I certainly know what is right - mainly by sound, instinct and context.

You need to ask a non-English, as a first language, speaker who has been taught the 'rules' but an English person, as a first language, for what is right although he may not know why.

It is a lot to do with understanding within the conversation and context.

In your examples you are generally correct about physical nearness and relationship of a subject/object to the speaker. Just as the often problematic 'bring'/'take' or 'coming'/'going' rely on location determined by its position with regard to the speaker's speech, not necessarily the actual physical location or destination from the speaker.

Your question. I would ask "What are these?". "These are slippers".

If I was holding the object (plural) or if they were not near or present they have been clearly identified as the subject of the conversation or question.
I would certainly ask "What are those?" if the objects were distant to the immediate, or vaguely defined.

This leads into what is plural?
Scissors, although one object, are spoken of as plural. eg. "A pair of scissors" is one object yet half of it (one blade and handle) is not called "a scissor". Like "trousers". Such words have no singular form, even if only referring to one.

Remember, there is an English saying "The exception proves the rule". In other words - nothing is that definite!

Sadly, you need more than a lifetime of English to get it totally together if not acquired as a child. But don't be discouraged, talk with natural English speakers as much as you can and keep asking why they used a certain gramatical construction or words (it will make them think about their own language too). But also be aware there is a different usage among different English speaking peoples (eg. UK, USA, Australia, Ireland, etc).

Good luck!

xSnoofovich
28-09-2011, 11:03
best rule of thumb -

forget itsa. itsa isn't a word.

Rexy
28-09-2011, 18:08
Than you so much for your answer, Tony P.


http://esl.about.com/od/thebasics/a/this_that_these_those_determiners.htm

Surely I've googled it before asking here. There isn't anything about how to answer "What is/are this/that/these/those?" questions in this article.


best rule of thumb -

forget itsa. itsa isn't a word.

Could you please explain what you mean? Is it better not to use such phrases as "It is a ...."?

rusmeister
28-09-2011, 23:05
The most normal correct answer would be "It is/They are". Once you have drawn attention to the target object, there's no need to continue to specially draw attention to an object when attention is already on it.

"This is.." would be appropriate if it is near to the respondent as well as the questioner and/or he wishes to underscore drawing attention to the object(s) in question.

Professional ESL teacher for over 16 years

martpark
28-09-2011, 23:06
Could be a physical distance: This shirt/These shoes near me. That dog/those dogs over there.
or
abstract distance: this week/these days = now or around now

that week/those days= some specified time in the past or future

Tony P
28-09-2011, 23:30
Exactly, as the last two posts.

Each instance stands on its own circumstances, including the relationship of speaker and spoken to.

Such things are not completely exact within a framework of set rules to be rigidly followed, but an interpretation that comes with usage.

IMO there is no 100% fixed rule for many things but a usage that comes from the experience of total immersion in the language and culture during a formatitive period, when learning is natural.


I am no teacher or linguist.
My thoughts arise after 7 years living among good level English speaking Russians who constantly enquire about my use of English. This has made me think and analyse those instances. I have found out much of my natural language because of those enquiries and thinking about them.

No doubt text books will disagree with me and tell you I know nuffink.

Rexy
29-09-2011, 00:26
It seems that I misled you. I guess I distinguish quite well in which situations this-these-that-those should be used. We have almost the same system of demonstrative pronouns in Russian. I was confused only by the answer to the "What" question because I came across contradicting information in different books.

For example "Grammaway 1" says:

http://i.imgur.com/j8zmu.png

yakspeare
29-09-2011, 10:26
What you posted doesn't seem contradictory.

What's this?

answer: It's a pen

What's that?

answer: It's a pen. This shows some distance from the speaker, usually more than arm's length. If the object is also some distance from the person who answers, he/she can also reply that's a pen(over there.)

we would not normally answer "this is a pen" for objects near us, instead use it is a pen. Unless you were trying to make a point to a young child learning English, to remind them of the name of the object. In everyday English you wouldn't say this is in the answer.

these and those the same applies but for plural.

robertmf
29-09-2011, 17:24
best rule of thumb -

forget itsa. itsa isn't a word.

itsa word in south Philly and the Bronx.

:evilgrin:

Rexy
29-09-2011, 18:27
What you posted doesn't seem contradictory.

The rules form the "Grammarway" contradict the rules from the book published by some Russian University I will not name. I can't post it here but you can believe me. There are basically no rules there at all, but the models, which students must learn by heart. I just tried to find out if it is correct or not to answer "This is/These are", because I have always answered such questions with "It is/They are" phrases.

Thank you all for the answers. I think now I see the difference between these answers. It is so strange that I am constantly confused by the most basic word structures. Something that is considered to be very simple =(

robertmf
02-10-2011, 18:16
Thank you all for the answers. I think now I see the difference between these answers. It is so strange that I am constantly confused by the most basic word structures. Something that is considered to be very simple =(

That yakSpeare on this forum has a good post. This/that usage depends on proximity|possession.

This (pl. these) is a good martini - if I am holding it.
That (pl. those) looks like a good martini - if I'm crying while watching you drink it.

(n.b. watch out for colllective plurals)

robertmf
02-10-2011, 18:25
It seems that I misled you. I guess I distinguish quite well in which situations this-these-that-those should be used. We have almost the same system of demonstrative pronouns in Russian. I was confused only by the answer to the "What" question because I came across contradicting information in different books.

Those 'What's this' 'What's that' examples in NOTE: are picky :9456: picky and rather irrelevant.

You can use any of those answers in the vernacular including the NOT ones.

... just don't spell English|American phonetically :11158:

:mml: