this, these, that, those
If you’re not sure about this, these, that and those, the article highlights some interesting ways of looking at it in more detail. It’s useful for teachers and learners.
And then a colleague introduced me to the concept of summary nouns.
This/these + a summary noun
‘Abstract nouns with demonstrative determiners’, she informed me, ‘improve the flow of the text by summarizing old information and introducing it to a new clause or sentence.’ And then she gave me an example or two, such as the following:
An alternative to the guided interview is the focus group, in which respondents are asked to discuss their views collectively. This method, where participants engage with each other, has the advantage of lowering the risk of interviewer bias.
I must have been aware at some level of this feature of academic English, but I hadn’t actually had it explained to me as an entity in itself that was potentially teachable.
‘Oh, there are lots of things you can do with it in the classroom’, she added, such as:
– asking students to identify some of the many typical summary nouns (area, conclusion, development, example, idea, phenomenon, situation, trend etc.) and organizing them into sub-groups (claim, comment, remark etc.);
– gapping texts after the demonstrative determiner and eliciting the most appropriate summary noun;
– applying the feature to disconnected or ‘untidy’ texts;
– inviting students to bring in for discussion their own examples;
– looking at the occasions where a writer has paired that or those, or such instead of this or these with a summary noun.
And what I found in class was not only the sense among students that this was a feature they could take away for immediate use, but also, it seemed to me, a greater awareness of the function of demonstrative determiners in other contexts (on their own or with non-summary nouns), almost as if the ‘graspable’ nature of ‘this/these + a summary noun’ had acted as a kind of bridging device.
Source: A way to make demonstrative determiners teachable | Oxford University Press