Although deictic terms are among the earliest words children acquire, the proximal/non-proximal contrast (the true deictic contrast) between here and there, and between this and that, takes several years to master. As research on spontaneous production shows, children may start, for example, by using here with a deictic meaning, there with a non-deictic meaning, and a gesture to indicate a deictic contrast. On the basis of two experiments on comprehension, we argue that children go through at least three stages in acquiring the deictic contrasts. They start with NO CONTRAST, work out a PARTIAL CONTRAST used only in certain contexts, and finally master a FULL CONTRAST equivalent to the adult's. However, children follow different routes through these stages, depending on their initial choice of (a) the point of reference for the contrast – themselves or the speaker – and (b) the spatial relation to that point of reference – proximity or distance.