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This and That, These and Those

Languages have what linguists refer to as demonstratives, which are words that specify which object a speaker is refering to. English has four demonstratives in total: this, that, these, and those. There are two spatial references, which means that the demonstrative used either tells you that the object is near or far from the speaker, and for each spatial reference there is a singular and a plural. To understand it better, think of the difference between the phrases "this cat," "that cat," "these cats," and "those cats."

Near Far
Singular this cat that cat
Plural these cats those cats

Demonstratives can either modify a noun or stand in place of a noun. Some languages have different words for each type, but in English the same demonstrative is used in either case.

This food is delicious ("This" is modifying the noun "food")
This is delicious ("This" is standing in place of the noun "food")

The list of demonstratives is a little longer for Xhosa, as Xhosa uses three spatial references (near to me, near to you, far from both of us), the demonstrative used depends on the Noun Class of the word, and in many cases the demonstrative is different if it is replacing a noun and not just modifying a noun. Finally, some nouns are irregular: "this man" would be "le ndoda," and not "eli ndoda".

The best way to get a good grasp of how demonstratives are used in Xhosa is through practice, so we will end here with a reference table and just a few examples.

to me
to you
Far Example Meaning
1 lo loo/lowo laa/lowa lo mntu this person
2 aba abo abaa/abaya abo bantu those people
3 lo loo/lowo laa/lowa ngumthi lowa that's the tree
4 le loo/leyo laa/leya ndikhumbula leyo I remember those (trees)
5 eli elo elaa/eliya linomdla eli this (story) is interesting
6 la loo/lawo laa/lawa ngamadoda lawo those are the men
7 esi eso esaa/esiya esi sakhiwo this building
8 ezi ezo ezaa/eziya zizakhiwo ezi these are the buildings
9 le loo/leyo laa/leya le nto this thing
10 ezi ezo ezaa/eziya ezo lwimi those languages
11 olu olo olaa/oluya lulwimi olo that's the beach
14 obu obo obaa/obuya obu bubele this kindness
15 oku oko okwaa/okuya ndifuna oko I want that (food)

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