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This question also has an answer here (in German):
Artikel anstelle von Personalpronomen

Why is der used in the following example sentences (from online dictionaries) in place of simply er? Would these sentences still be correct, if er were used?

Wo ist dein Bruder? — Der ist oben.
⇒ Where’s your brother? — He’s upstairs.

Wo ist der nur abgeblieben?
⇒ Where’s he got to? [Where can he be?]

Dein Vater, der ist nicht gekommen!
⇒ Your father, he didn’t come!

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In your example sentences, the article "der" is used as a demonstrative pronoun and generally replaces "jener" or "dieser" when used that way (this is common speech). And yes, these sentences are still correct if you use "er".

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    And it might be worth mentioning that using a demonstrative pronoun for a person can be considered pejorative, especially in formal conversation and even more so when the person mentioned is present. – tofro Apr 5 '16 at 14:35
  • @tofro The example sentences could be found in actual spoken language and wouldn’t be considered pejorative at all (and defective neither). It couldn’t be replaced by dieser or jener without rephrasing, just er, which would be less emphatic. – Crissov Apr 5 '16 at 18:55
  • Yes, not (very) pejorative but clearly only ok in spoken laguage. So, no, not really replacable at all..! – TaW Apr 5 '16 at 18:57
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    @Crissov Hmm. Try and say "Der da" to your boss in his presence and tell me how it worked out ;) – tofro Apr 5 '16 at 21:01

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