Difference between this and that
This and these are used to talk about people and things which are close to the speaker.
Can you put this book on that table? (Here the book is lying in a position close to the speaker but the table isn’t.)
Do you like these ear-rings?
Is this your pen?
Can you help me tie this knot?
We use that and those to talk about people and things which are more distant from the speaker. That and those are also used to talk about people and things which are not present.
Can you put this chair in that corner over there?
That was an interesting story you told us yesterday.
Is that your car parked over there?
This and these can also refer to situations which are going on.
I like this song.
Listen to this message. (NOT Listen to that message.)
That and those can refer to experiences which have just finished.
Who said that?
That is used in expressions like that’s it and that’s that.
Okay. That’s it. I’m leaving now.
Well, that’s that. Another day’s work finished.
On the telephone
On the telephone, British people use this to identify themselves, and that to ask about the hearer’s identity.
Hello. This is Jane. Is that Ruth?
Americans may also use this to ask about the hearer’s identity.
Hello. This is Alice. Who is this?