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 phrase appears in these lessons:
- “I get this sharp pain in my shoulder whenever I raise my arm.”
- “There's this nosy lady next door who's always in our business.”
- “I have this recurring dream where I'm on a boat that's sinking.”
- “Today I was talking with this girl at work who just got back from maternity leave.”
- “I've had this song stuck in my head for two days!”
- “Amy and I were sitting there talking and this guy I know walked by.”
- “I've got this neighbor who plays this god-awful techno music until one in the morning.”
- “It made this weird screeching noise and then it died.”
- “I saw this incredible documentary the other day on the state of the public school system.”