- For Teachers
Although he himself admitted in an interview that he had made mistakes in his poliicy, this / that did not prevent him from further making themů
***** NOT a teacher *****
I was very much interested in your question because I, like some other
native speakers, am never sure which pronoun I should use.
(1) May I share something that I read? (I have reworded it a bit.)
Many people do not understand the difference between
this/that. The other day I told a friend that "Mr. X is doing a
bad job." She replied, "This is what I have been telling you"
instead of "That is what I have been telling you." This misuse
of these two words may stem from ...
He then explains that he wrote "This misuse" (not THAT misuse) because
he had mentioned the misuse in the preceding two sentences.
He explains that "this" and "that" traditionally have meant, both
spatially [I guess space-wise] and temporally [I guess time-wise], the
nearer and farther off.
(2) The first poster said that either pronoun would be correct in your
sentence. I have also communciated with two English teachers who
know their grammar because they are very active in the English-teaching
field. Both told me that there is no hard and fast rule. They agree that
either one might be correct -- perhaps depending on one's own feeling
about space and time.
(3) Finally, Professor Quirk and his colleagues who wrote A Comprehensive
Grammar of the English Language (which some -- not all -- English-
language professionals feel is the most authoritative grammar book
currently available) seem to agree that either is often possible.
I found this in their book:
An argument over [such and such a matter] broke out between them.
The/This/That argument finally put an end to their friendship.
An argument over [such and such] broke out between them, and
this/that finally put an end to their friendship.
Many years ago their wives quarrelled [quarreled] over some trivial
matter, now long forgotten. That's why the two men never visit each
Students want to be shown connections between facts instead of
spending their time memorizing dates and formulas. Reflecting this,
the university is moving away from large survey courses.
(4) In researching your question, I learned a new word:
anaphora. (Pronounced a NA pho ra) It means referring back to
something. In your sentence, this/that refers back to (I think)
the man's awareness that he had made many mistakes. You probably
already know that word. Just in case you don't, you might google
it and find more info about this (!!!) matter.
***** NOT a teacher *****
P.S. In your sentence, I vote for "this."
Last edited by TheParser; 02-Nov-2010 at 00:01.
TheParser: As usual, your answers are intersting and very useful. Thank you very much!
***** A NON-TEACHER'S OPINION *****
I have exciting news to share.
Today I accidentally came across a discussion about these two
words at another helpline, which has some extremely knowledgeable
posters such as CJ, GG, and MM. They are like the excellent teachers and
moderators here at usingenglish. Well, CJ gave his "rule." It is awesome!!!
Here it is:
"This" and "that" can refer to an entire situation. They are often used when the conversation begins. "This" is used when the situation is happening or is about to happen. "That" is used when the situation has already happened. [So --according to CJ's rule, you
should use "that" in your sentence, I guess.]
CJ then gives many examples. I do not feel comfortable simply
copying his examples, so I have made up my own examples based
on his examples:
Tom and Martha leave a concert. Tom says, "That was awesome,
Mona: I went to Las Vegas last week.
Ralph: That's nice. What did you do there?
[Some Americans jokingly refer to Las Vegas as Lost Wages because they lose all their money gambling!!!)
Toby and Melody are at computers visiting an English helpline.
(Usingenglish. com, of course!!!) Melody says, "Isn't this fun?!!!"
Jimmy and Nancy attend a political meeting to hear a politician give a
speech. After the meeting, they see the pol. Jimmy yells, "Hey, man!
That was really cool!!!"
When I looked in the mirror and saw that I had another wrinkle on my face, I told myself: "This is disgusting."
Joe: I had to work yesterday all day. I did not have time to visit usingenglish.com.
Melinda: That's bad luck, dude!!!
I went to a French restaurant (here in the United States). When I
looked at the menu prices, I told myself: This is not going to be a cheap experience. When my girlfriend and I left, she said,"That was an experience that we will never forget."
Thank you & have a nice day.
In most of the examples Parser gives in his second example, I agree with his choices; the alternative is not possible. But motico has given us a different situation.
I promise: this will be my last post in this thread!!!
I have just received a note from CJ.
Take this example that I gave you in my first post:
Tom: Mr. X is doing a bad job.
Sue: THAT (correct)/ THIS (incorrect) is what I have been telling you.
Well, CJ says that :
Some speakers do choose "this" instead of "that" in such cases. The use of "this" indicates a feeling that the matter is of immediate importance. ("This" is "closer" than "that.") For others it is simply an idiosyncrasy in their personal style of communication.
So now I have the confidence to change my mind again. I now feel that
I would be more comfortable using "this" in your original sentence. If
anyone questions me, I can reply: I feel that it is (as CJ put it) of
Have a nice day!
So 2006 was right with his two words in the second post of this thread.