Determiners

Determiners are words that introduce nouns. These are the different types:

  • Articles: a, an, the
  • Demonstratives: this, that, these, those
  • Possessive Adjectives: my, your, her, his, our, its, their
  • Quantifiers: a little, a few, many, much, a lot of, most, any, some, enough
  • Numbers: one, five, forty
  • Distributives: both, all, half, neither, either, every, each
  • Interrogatives: what, which, whose

The grammar rules for determiners are that they:

  • Always come before a noun
  • Come before any modifiers (e.g. adjectives) used before the noun
  • Are required before a singular noun 
  • Are optional before plural nouns

Here are some examples of determiners used with the noun 'house':

Determiners are commonly used as part of noun phrases, which will also include a modifier (an adjective, another noun, a possessive form, or an adverb-adjective combination).

Here are some examples of noun phrases that consist of:

  • determiner + modifier + noun

Examples of Determiners

Here are some more examples of determiners with nouns in sentences. The determiner is in red and the noun is in bold. Note the modifiers separating them in certain cases:

Articles


Articles can be definite articles (the) or indefinite (a or an). The is used when the speaker thinks that the listener already knows what is being referred to. Otherwise a (before consonants) or an (before vowels) is used.

There are many rules though around articles which need to be studied carefully.

  • She took a significant amount of time to learn English
  • I bought a nice present for my uncle
  • There's an otter over there
  • The beaches in Goa are beautiful
  • I'll give you an example of the essay question

Demonstratives


Demonstrative determiners are used to identify or point to a particular person, event, or object. This and that are singular. These and those are plural.

  • I like this kind of biscuit
  • Why don't you buy that book instead of this one?
  • Those children outside are being too noisy for this time of night
  • I'll take these pills for my back ache later

Possessive Adjectives


Possessive adjective determiners function as adjectives rather than pronouns. As they are adjectives, they appear before the noun that they are modifying.

  • Do you like my new dress?
  • I prefer my uniform to yours (i.e. your uniform)
  • Take your phone out of your pocket
  • I really respect her controversial views on abortion
  • His old motorbike is a classic
  • Let's let them use our house for their wedding reception
  • The dog has eaten its food

Quantifiers


Quantifiers provide approximate or specific answers to the questions "How many?" and "How much?"

  • I only take a little bit of milk with my tea
  • Quite a few people should be coming to the party
  • I didn't take many holidays last year
  • I haven't brought much money with me
  • Do you think a lot of people believe what he says?
  • Most students work hard to pass their exams
  • Have you got any proof that he committed the crime?
  • It takes some effort for me to do exercise
  • Do we have enough rice to last the week?

Numbers


Numbers are either cardinal (one, two, three, etc.), which are adjectives referring to quantity, or ordinal (first, second, third, etc.) referring to distribution.

  • Two cars are enough for most families
  • There are about twenty-five people in my office
  • It's my fortieth birthday next week
  • That is the second time you've done that!

Distributives


Distributive determiners are used to refer to a group or individual members of the group. They reveal more about how people or things are distributed, shared, or divided.

  • Both countries need to discuss the issues and find a solution
  • All pet dogs need plenty of attention
  • Half the people decided not to vote
  • Neither house is suitable for our needs 
  • We can eat at either 7pm or 8pm

Interrogatives


Interrogatives are used to ask questions. Which as a determiner is used to ask about a specific group of people or things.

What as a determiner is used when we are asking a general question. Whose is used to ask a question about possession.

  • Which restaurant did you like best?
  • What time will you come?
  • Whose pencil is this?