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Difference Bewtween the Demonstratives Este and Esse

edited July 2014 in Portuguese
Because the demonstratives este and esse and related feminine and plural forms are similar in spelling and pronunciation, students and sometimes even native speakers tend to mix them up. Read the differences below, but also bear in mind that in informal, spoken Portuguese the differences tend to disappear and either can be used. 
Este (m., sing) = this / Estes (m., pl.) = these
Esta (f., sing) = this / Estas (f., pl.) = these
The demonstratives este(s) and esta(s) refer to something that is near both the speaker and the person spoken to.They are equivalent to this and these.
Este café está ótimo. This coffee is great. 
Quanto custam estas camisetas? How much are these t-shirts?
Esse (m., sing) = that / Esses (m., pl.) = those
Essa (f., sing) = that / Essas (f., pl.) = those
The demonstratives esse(s) and essa(s) refer to something that is near or related to the person being spoken to, but not near the speaker. They are equivalent to that and those.
Onde você comprou esse livro que você está lendo? Where did you buy that book you're reading?
Essa menina é sua filha? Is that girl your daughter? 
It's important to note that Portuguese also has the forms aquele(s) and aquela(s) to refer to something that is far from both the speaker and the person being spoken to. They are also the equivalent to the English that and those.
Aquelas casas na rua de trás são lindas. Those houses on the street back there are beautiful.

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