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Deixis is the phenomenon that elements in a language may have a reference which is dependent on the immediate context of their utterance. The term is introduced to handle the 'orientational' features of language which are relative to the time and place of utterance.


(i) personal pronouns: I, you, he, etc.

(ii) adverbials of place and time: here, there; now, then


Deixis is merely the Greek word for 'pointing' or 'indicating'.

Other languages

Chinese 指示语
German Deixis (de)


Lyons, John. 1968. Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Utrecht Lexicon of Linguistics