Using demonstrative adjectives to refer to time (present, past and future)

Demonstrative adjectives are usually used as spatial references, but they can also be used to establish temporal references in order to refer to the present, the past and the future.

 

Este/esta/estos/estas

Esta semana no ha parado de llover.
It hasn't stop raining this week.

Estos meses no dejará de aumentar el paro.
In the coming months, unemployment will continue increasing.

In the first example above, esta refers to present time (esta semana, i.e the current week) while in the second example, estos refers to a near future (estos meses, i.e the months coming). 

 

Ese/esa/esos/esas

Ese día estaba muy enferma y no vine a trabajar.
I was very sick that day and I didn't come to work.

¿Tendrás más tiempo para ese día?
Will you have more time that day?

In the first example above, ese día refers to a past event while in the second example ese día refers to a future event.

 

Aquel/aquella/aquellos/aquellas

¡Qué tiempos aquellos en que no existían los móviles y se conversaba más!
What an interesting time it was when mobile phones didn't exist and we talked more!

¡Qué semana aquella que pasamos en Ibiza!
What a beautiful week we spent in Ibiza!

We can only use aquel, aquella, aquellos and aquellas to refer to a past event. Very often this use indicates an element of nostalgia. We do not use it to refer to present or future events.

In the examples above, aquel / aquella / aquellos / aquellas refer to a past event that is further away in the time in the speaker's mind compared to ese/esa/esos/esas.

Have a look at these two examples to see the difference:

¡Qué buenos recuerdos tengo de ese viaje!
What good memories I have of that journey!

¡Qué buenos recuerdos tengo de aquel viaje!
What good memories I have of that journey!

In the first sentence, the speaker feels "closer" in time to the journey while in the second sentence the speaker sees it as a more "far away" idea, yet they are both referring to the same journey. So, using ese or aquel is sometimes subjective.

See also Adjetivo demostrativo.

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

¡Qué buenos recuerdos tengo de ese viaje!
What good memories I have of that journey!


Esta semana no ha parado de llover.
It hasn't stop raining this week.


¡Qué buenos recuerdos tengo de aquel viaje!
What good memories I have of that journey!


Ese día estaba muy enferma y no vine a trabajar.
I was very sick that day and I didn't come to work.


¡Qué semana aquella que pasamos en Ibiza!
What a beautiful week we spent in Ibiza!


¿Tendrás más tiempo para ese día?
Will you have more time that day?


¡Qué tiempos aquellos en que no existían los móviles y se conversaba más!
What an interesting time it was when mobile phones didn't exist and we talked more!


Estos meses no dejará de aumentar el paro.
In the coming months, unemployment will continue increasing.


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