In English, a determiner is a word that initiates or describes the quantity of a noun. It always appears before a noun, not after, as well as adjectives that define the noun. Determiners should come before singular nouns but are not necessary before plural nouns.
- The girl sang that song. (determiner appears before the noun “girl”)
- She threw the rusty ball over the fence. (determiner “the” exists before the adjective rusty that qualifies the noun ball)
- Rose flowers are so pretty. (plurals nouns necessarily do not have determiner)
- The rose flowers are so pretty. (the determiner “the” before the adjective “rose” expressing a plural noun to define which flowers)
Types of Determiners
The four types of determiners in English are articles, demonstratives, quantifiers, and possessives.
Definite and Indefinite Articles
Articles are one of the most prevalent determiners. Articles define which noun the speaker is addressing.
The indefinite articles are A and An. They give a general description of the noun especially when it’s not specific. A comes before words that start with consonants, while an appears before words starting with vowels or vowel sounds.
- A pig is a dirty animal. (consonant) ( “a” states it can be any pig)
- An egg has high protein. (vowel) ( “an” shows that the quality of high protein refers to any egg)
- She met with an HR personnel. (vowel sound) ( “an” portrays that the “h” in “HR” is pronounced as a vowel sound and so should take the article “an”)
The definite article, The, expresses the particular noun the speaker addresses.
- He saw the Eiffel tower. ( “the” is specifying the particular noun being discussed)
- The fishes in the pond are dying. ( “the” is referring to the exact place where the fishes are)
- They sang the Christmas song. ( “the” describes the particular Christmas song being sung)
Demonstrative pronouns are also determiners in English. They include this, that, these, those. They define the point of the item the speaker indicates, making them even more specific than a definite article.
This and that refer to singular entities while these and those refer to plural entities.
- This room is dark and scary.
- Do you know these men?
- They are going on that tour.
- Those old wires are spoilt.
Quantifiers display how much or how little of the noun is. They comprise all, few and many.
- Few ladies went to the event.
- We carried all the files to the office.
- Many clothes are washed in the laundry room.
Possessives explain that the nouns show ownership, just like possessive pronouns. These include my, your, his, her, its, our, and their.
- The fox protects its young.
- The black one is her pen.
- Where are our gifts?
What is a Determiner?
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