a. That cousin of Jane who is a doctor was at the party.

(That cousin, not the other cousin or cousins. That specific one)

b. That door of the house that faces east was damaged.

(That door, not the other door or doors. That specific door.)

c. I will give you that puppy of my dog that you love best.

(That puppy, not the other one or ones. That specific puppy.)

Are sentences (a), (b) and (c) grammatically correct?

Do they mean what I think they mean?

"That" is used here to emphasize which thing we are talking about.

2 Answers 2


In each case, it would be more normal to replace that by the.

That is possible, but to my ear it is deictic not emphatic. It suggests that either you're pointing at the thing, or that it's one that you have talked about before, and you expect your hearer to remember which one you mean.

Using it as a non-deictic specifier (to mean the particular one) is literary, and not many people would use it in conversation.

a. is not idiomatic: we would say That cousin of Jane's.

  • Thank you all very much. I am not a student and am not preparing for an exam, Too old for all that. And yes, I am looking for that non-deictic usage! Nice word. I didn't know it. I am not going for natural sentences. Just exploring this usage. How did you know my dog's name was Susie?!
    – azz
    Jan 14, 2022 at 12:30

Hmm, I'm guessing you're studying for a test. As a native English speaker, I honestly don't know if they want the answer of yes or no for a). For it to be grammatically correct, I would exchange "that" for "the" and add commas around "who is a doctor." For it to be spoken in common varnacular, I would change it to, "Jane's cousin, who is a doctor, was at the party."

Sentence c is perfectly correct for the second "that" but the first one should be replaced by "the."

  • 2
    But (c) isn't very natural. In real life, the dog owner would say something like "I'll give you your favourite [puppy] out of Susie's litter". Jan 14, 2022 at 12:17

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