From an English Reading test:

'[...] Think of an interview as a highly focused professional conversation. You should spend the limited amount of time you have learning about the employer's needs and discuss the ways you can meet ____ needs. In many cases, you will be interviewed at least twice before being...'

Which one should I choose to fill in the gap, "these" or "those"?

  • That should probably be the limited, not your limited, and it should definitely be at least twice, not just least twice. The practice test you’re taking might not be very good. – snailplane Dec 31 '18 at 5:15

Both are fine. We could understand these as meaning the needs I'm talking about right now, and those as meaning the needs that I just mentioned, but in practice the choice doesn't affect the "meaning" in any way in OP's exact cited context.

As a general principle, these usually refers to things which are "nearer" than those - where "nearer" could mean physically closer, more relevant to the current context, more recently mentioned, etc.

In contexts where the referent(s) are physically present - particularly if both plural pronouns (or their singular equivalents this and that) are used within a single utterance - people often use hand gestures to clarify the referent(s)...

Customer: Good morning. I'd like to buy some widgets.
Shopkeeper: No problem! Do you want these1 or those2?

[pointing while speaking, to these widgets1 right here or those other widgets2 over there]

As an alternative that would more explicitly emphasise the actual point being made, OP might consider their needs (since the context is specifically about the employer's needs, not the prospective employee's needs).


I you the things are close to the speaker you should use “these,” and if they are away you should use “those".

  • That's a good (although not foolproof) generalization. However, the question is talking about employer's needs. Would you say that something abstract like "needs" are close to the speaker, or far away from the speaker? – J.R. Dec 31 '18 at 15:05

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