“It made this weird screeching noise and then it died.”

English Lesson: It made this weird screeching noise and then it died.

Your laptop has stopped working. Your roommate knows more about computers than you, so you've asked him to try to fix it. You describe what happened to it.

It made this weird screeching noise and then it died.

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this (person/thing)

In the example above, the speaker uses "this" instead of "a". There's a small difference between the two. When you say "this ___" it sounds like you're talking about one specific thing. "A ___" is more general. 

You use "this ___" instead of "a" or "the" when you're introducing something specific that you're going to talk about. It's usually used at the beginning of a story or explanation. For example:

Amy and I were sitting there talking and this guy I know walked by.

I've had this song stuck in my head for two days!

Today I was talking with this girl at work who just got back from maternity leave.

In all of these examples, the speaker will continue by telling a story about that topic.

People only use "this ___" in this way in casual spoken English.

this weird (verb+ing) noise

You can use this phrase when you’re trying to describe an unusual sound you heard.

There was this weird thumping noise. I was really freaked out.

She makes this weird chattering noise when she sees a bird.


A "screech" is a high-pitched, unpleasant noise. Some things that "screech" include:

  • An owl that is about to attack a mouse
  • A car engine that's having some trouble

(something electronic) died

We say this when a device turns off, either because of a dead battery or an unknown problem.

I think her phone died; it’s going straight to voicemail now.

I got about ten years of use out of it before it died for good.