this and that

  • We use this to talk about people and things which are close to the speaker, and for situations that we are in at the moment of speaking.
      I don’t know what I’m doing in this country.
      This is very nice — how do you cook it?
      Get this cat off my shoulder.

    We use that to talk about people and things which are more distant, not so close.

      I don’t like that boy you’re going out with. (NOT . . . this boy . . .)
      That smells nice — is it for lunch?
      Get that cat off the piano.
  • We use this to talk about things which are happening or just going to happen (present or future).
      I like this music. What is it? Listen to this You’ll like it.

    We use that to talk about things which have finished.

      That was nice. What was it? Who said that?
  • On the telephone, British people use this to talk about themselves, and that to talk about the hearer.
      Hello. This is Elizabeth. Is that Ruth?
      Americans often use this in both cases.