Pronoun resolution has long been central to psycholinguistics, but research has mostly focused on personal pronouns (“he”/“she”). However, much of linguistic reference is to events and objects, in English often using the demonstrative pronouns “that”/“this” and the non-personal pronoun “it”, respectively; and very little is known about potential form-specific preferences of non-personal and demonstrative pronouns and the cognitive mechanisms involved in reference using demonstratives. We present evidence that while the non-personal pronoun “it” has a form-specific preference to refer to noun phrases mentioned in the previous discourse, the bare demonstrative “that” serves a more complex function by bundling, and making linguistically accessible, complex conceptual structures. In four English self-paced reading studies, we show that while the processing of both “it” and “that” is influenced by surface properties of the linguistic context, such as lexical frequency, only “that” is sensitive to conceptual properties of events, such as complexity. These findings contribute to two distinct but connected research areas: First, they support an emergent experimental literature showing that pronominal reference to events is preferably done with demonstratives. Second, our model of demonstratives as conceptual bundlers provides a unified framework for future research on demonstratives as operators on the interface of language and broader cognition.