Determiners are words used to identify things in more detail. They are always accompanied by a noun and will give you extra information about that noun.
There are five types: articles, possessive, demonstrative, indefinite, and numeric determiners. Here, we will go through each one in turn and explain how it should be used. Read on to make sure that you are using these words correctly!
Articles precede nouns and can be definite: ‘the’ or indefinite: ‘a/an’ e.g. ‘the truck’, ‘a bowl’, ‘the man’, and so on. These are used to show exactly which thing you are talking about.
These words show the ownership of a noun and include words such as ‘my’ ‘your’ ‘her’ ‘his’ ‘its’ ‘ours’ and ‘their’. Don’t get these confused with personal pronouns (‘I’, ‘you’, ‘he’) or possessive pronouns (‘mine’, ‘yours’, theirs’). These don’t act as determiners. This is because it would be possible to say ‘this is mine’ without actually referring to the thing that is yours at all. We couldn’t say ‘this is your’ on its own- we would have to add the noun in after ‘your’- e.g. ‘this is your book’.
Demonstrative determiners give an indication as to the relationship between the speaker and the noun. If I said ‘I am reading this book’, you would expect it to be near by, and I would probably point at it. If I said ‘I am reading that book’, it may be on the other side of the room, or it could have come up in conversation. Demonstrative determiners include the words ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘those’, and ‘these’.
Indefinite determiners indicate unspecified quantities and include such words as ‘all’, ‘any’, ‘some’, ‘several’, ‘fewer’, and ‘least’.
If a number comes before a noun, it is a determiner. This counts for cardinal numbers (e.g. ‘one’, ‘two’, ‘three’) and ordinal numbers ‘first’, ‘second’ ‘third’. These give numerical information about a noun. For example, ‘this is the first book I ever read’, or ‘the cat had its second injection today’.
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