Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Aquel and Ese

Aquel vs Ese

Aside from English, Spanish seems to be one of the most confusing languages in the world. No matter how Americans avoid learning the language, most students don’t really have a choice as the language is included in the curriculum of both high schools and universities across the country.

Teachers and professors of Spanish classes have observed confusion among students when it comes to the usage of demonstrative pronouns “ese” and “aquel.” This is understandable because the two words are used to refer to something distant. When one says “Él no te compró ese carro” (He didn’t buy you that car), for example, “ese” is used to point to the “carro” or “car.” “Aquel” can also be used this way as in “Él no te compró aquel carro” (He didn’t buy you that car). There are, however, big differences between these two words in the Spanish grammar.

These two demonstrative pronouns are both used to point to subjects, but the usage depends on the objects’ proximities. “Ese” or “that” is to point to something nearer while “aquel” is used to refer to something farther away. Say, for example, there are two apples on the table. The speaker wanting to have a bite of the second apple which is on the far side of the table should use “aquel” (over there) instead of “ese” (that one).

“Ese” and “aquel” also take on varied contexts with the basis of time. For instance, when an acquaintance is being talked about, “ese” should be used if the person is still associated with the speaker. “Aquel,” on the other hand, should be used when the acquaintance no longer keeps in touch. A friend inside the workplace can be referred to using “ese” while a person that the speaker met twenty years ago should be referred to using “aquel.” Simply put, “ese” is used in constructing sentences that talk about recent subjects. “Aquel” becomes more proper when the subject existed a long time ago.

The two demonstrative pronouns may also be used in formulating exclamatory sentences or comments especially when reminiscing about a particular subject. When the speaker talks about something more recent, “ese” can be used. Say a guest gives comments about the food after the dinner and says, “That was quite a feast!” “Ese” would be more proper in the Spanish translation. On the other hand, when the speaker states something about an event that happened way back and says “That was a remarkable evening,” the usage of “aquel” makes it right.
Note, however, that there are some exceptions in the usage of these demonstrative pronouns. The rule of thumb in Spanish grammar is that “ese” is used to refer to an object close to the listener, while “aquel” is used to refer to subjects which are both distant from the listener and the speaker. Nonetheless, there may be situations when this rule doesn’t apply.
It is not necessarily the physical proximity that determines the proper usage of the demonstrative pronouns. When one mentions about an apartment which is not close to either the speaker or listener, “ese” may still be used in the context where the concept of the apartment somewhat “floats” toward the listener. It would then refer not to the physical apartment per se but to the concept that had just been mentioned.
Thus, when two parties are discussing something, the aforementioned rule will apply when the subject talked about is neither near the listener nor the speaker.


1.Both “ese” and “aquel” are demonstrative pronouns.
2.“Ese” is used to point to an object closer to the listener, and “aquel” is used to refer to something which is neither close to the listener nor the speaker.
3.In the context of time, “ese” refers to something more recent, while “aquel” is used to talk about a subject in the past.
4.“Ese” is more proper to use when the subject becomes a concept and tends to “float” towards the listener.

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