Grammar Lesson

Determiners

Determiners are words and special adjectives used before nouns

 

Function and Classes of Determiners

Function

Determiners are words placed in front of a noun to make it clear what the noun refers to. The word ‘people’ by itself is a general reference to some group of human beings. If someone says ‘these people’, we know which group they are talking about, and if they say ‘a lot of people’ we know how big the group is.

Classes of Determiners

There are several classes of determiners:

1. Definite and Indefinite articles

The words a, an and the belong to this group of words called determiners.
The words a and an are called indefinite articles. You can use them with singular nouns to talk about any single person or thing.

This is a photo of an eagle.
Rick is reading a magazine.
Dad bought me a new dress today.
It rains outside, you will need an umbrella.
He eats an apple a day.

The article a occurs before words beginning with consonants. The article an is often used before words beginning with vowels.

The word the is called the definite article. It occurs before a noun when you are talking about a certain person or thing.

The telephone is ringing.
Where’s the dog? -I think he is under the desk.
The street is very busy today.
The sky is getting dark.

You also use the before a noun when there is only one. For example:

the sun
the moon
the sky
the front door of my house

2. Demonstratives

The words this, that, these and those are determiners. They are used to tell which thing or person you mean. These words are called demonstrative determiners, or demonstrative adjectives.

This candy is delicious.
What is that animal?
Bring me those balls.
Would you like these peaches?
Carl lives in this house.

You use this and these to point to people or things near you.
You use that and those to point to people or things that are farther from you.
You use this and that before singular nouns and these and those before plural nouns.

3. Possessives

The words my, your, his, her, its, our, their are called possessive determiners or posessive adjectives. These words occur before nouns to say who something belongs to.

Is this your school?
Maggy, your handwriting is difficult to read.
James is showing his toy to his friends.
My sister lost her way in the city.
The tigre is chasing its prey.

4. Question or Interrogative words

The words what, which and whose occur before nouns to ask about people or things. These words are called interrogative determiners or interrrogative adjectives.

What time is it?
What kind of clothes do you like to wear?
Which school do you go to?
Which actor is your favorite?
Do you know which candidat won the prize?
Whose footprints are these?
Whose dog was barking in the middle of the night?

The following words are pre-determiners. They go before determiners, such as articles: such and what, half, rather, quite

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