I am aware of the difference between

  • This and that
  • These and those

An image explaining the difference between This/That and These/Those

It's easy for me to distinguish which one to use when I talk to someone but I am having a trouble with choosing the right one in the following sentence (Written, not spoken):

I'd been struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem until I stumbled upon a book "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius. That book has helped me overcome my struggles and led me to studies of

  • Philosophy
  • Psychology
  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness

These topics have become my passion and I've been studying them ever since.

I chose "That book" because:

  • The distance. Readers can't see or identify the book.
  • "That book" ⇄ "The book"
  • It just feels right

I chose "These topics" because:

  • The topics are written right above the "These topics" so they are close to the reader. I could say the same about the "That book" but the book also has a physical form and it lies somewhere far away from the reader.
  • The emotional distance between me and the topics (I like them)

Which one would you choose? "This book" VS "That book" / "These topics" VS "Those topics"?

  • Don't confuse physical distance with the use of this and that and these and those to refer to someone's utterances with whom you are discussing something or to refer to your own previous utterances.
    – Lambie
    May 29, 2018 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


There is no wrong answer. At that moment, you are expressing your (figurative) closeness to or distance from the thing by the choice of this or that. If you say this book it's as if you are holding it in your hands. If you say that book, it's as if you are pointing to the book on a library shelf. The former, this book, would convey the nuanced idea that the book continues to have meaning for you. You have it with you. The latter, that book, would convey the nuanced idea that the book has had meaning for you. Reading it marked a turning point for you.

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