Determiners - English Grammar

Determiners are words that are used with nouns to clarify the noun
to define something or someone
to state the amount of people, things or other nouns
to state possessives
to state something or someone is specific
to state how things or people are distributed
to state the difference between nouns
to state someone or something is not specific
There are different types of determiners. There type of determiner depends on the type of noun. Singular nouns always need a determiner. Plural nouns the determiner is optional.

Kinds of Determiners


There are 3 Articles A, An, The.

1) Definite Article
"THE"Articles in English are invariable. That is, they do not change according to the gender or number of the noun they refer to, e.g. the boy, the woman, the children'The' is used:

  • to refer to something which has already been mentioned.
    An elephant and a mouse fell in love.
    The mouse loved the elephant's long trunk,
    and the elephant loved the mouse's tiny nose.
  • when both the speaker and listener know what is being talked about, even if it has not been mentioned before.
    'Where's the bathroom?'
    'It's on the first floor.'
  • in sentences or clauses where we define or identify a particular person or object:
    The man who wrote this book is famous.
    'Which car did you scratch?' 'The red one.
    My house is the one with a blue door.'
  • to refer to objects we regard as unique:
    the sun, the moon, the world
  • before superlatives and ordinal numbers: (see Adjectives)
    the highest building, the first page, the last chapter.
  • with adjectives, to refer to a whole group of people:
    the Japanese (see Nouns - Nationalities), the old
  • with names of geographical areas and oceans:
    the Caribbean, the Sahara, the Atlantic
  • with decades, or groups of years:
    she grew up in the seventies

2) Indefinite Article
A / AN Use 'a' with nouns starting with a consonant (letters that are not vowels), 'an' with nouns starting with a vowel (a,e,i,o,u)
A boy
An apple
A car
An orange
A house
An opera

Point to Remember
An before an h mute - an hour, an hour.
A before u and eu when they sound like 'you': a european, a university, a unit

The indefinite article is used

  • to refer to something for the first time:
    An elephant and a mouse fell in love.
    Would you like a drink?
    I've finally got a good job.
  • to refer to a particular member of a group or class



Demonstrative: The demonstratives this, that, these, those ,show where an object or person is in relation to the speaker.


This (singular) and these (plural) refer to an object or person near the speaker. That (singular) and those (plural) refer to an object or person further away. It can be a physical closeness or distance as in:

  • Who owns that house? (distant)
  • Is this John's house? (near)

Or it can be a psychological distance as in:

  • That's nothing to do with me.. (distant)
  • This is a nice surprise! (near)


  • Before the noun.
  • Before the word 'one'.
  • Before an adjective + noun.
  • Alone when the noun is 'understood'.


  • This car looks cleaner than that one.
  • This old world keeps turning round
  • Do you remember that wonderful day in June?
  • I'll never forget this.



Possessive: We use possessive adjectives to show who owns or "possesses" something. The possessive adjectives are:

my, your, his, her, its, our, their
whose (interrogative)


Number Person Gender Possessive Adjective
Singular 1st male/female my
2nd male/female your
3rd male his
female her
neuter its
Plural 1st male/female our
2nd male/female your
3rd male/female/neuter their
Singular/Plural 1st/2nd/3rd male/female (not neuter) whose

I like your hair.
His name is "John".
Her name is "Mary".
The dog is licking its paw
We have sold our house.
Your children are lovely.
The students thanked their teacher.
Whose phone did you use?



Numeral Determiners: The cardinal numbers (one, two, three, etc.) are adjectives referring to quantity, and the ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc.) refer to distribution.
Numeral Determiners are three types

Definite: one, two, three, four, five , etc
Indefinite: Some, Many, Few, all, Several etc.
Distributive: Each , every, either, nether


  • There are twenty-five people in the room.
  • He was the fourteenth person to win the award since 1934.
  • Many girls are absent today
  • many a flower fades unseen
  • I have read the few books i have.
  • There are some people in the park
  • All the countries are preparing for war
  • This matter will take several hours
  • Every boy gets a prize.
  • Either pen will do.
  • Every man dies
  • Neither news is true



Quantitative Determiners: Some, Any, No, Much, Little these are Adjectives of Quantity

Some and any are used with countable and uncountable nouns, to describe an indefinite or incomplete quantity.

Some is used in positive statements:


  • I had some rice for lunch
  • He's got some books from the library.

It is also used in questions where we are sure about the answer:

  • Did he give you some tea? (= I'm sure he did.)
  • Is there some fruit juice in the fridge? (= I think there is)

Some is used in situations where the question is not a request for information, but a method of making a request, encouraging or giving an invitation:

  • Could I have some books, please?
  • Why don't you take some books home with you?

Any is used in questions and with not in negative statements:

  • Have you got any tea?
  • He didn't give me any tea.

SOME in positive sentences

  • I will have some news next week.
  • She has some valuable books in her house.

SOME in questions:

  • Would you like some help?
  • Will you have some more roast beef?

ANY in negative sentences

  • She doesn't want any kitchen appliances for Christmas.
  • They don't want any help moving to their new house.

ANY in interrogative sentences

  • Do you have any friends in London?
  • Have they got any children?

A few and few, a little and little: These expressions show the speaker's attitude towards the quantity he/she is referring to.

A few (for countable nouns) and a little (for uncountable nouns) describe the quantity in a positive way:

  • "I've got a few friends" (= maybe not many, but enough)
  • "I've got a little money" (= I've got enough to live on)

Few and little describe the quantity in a negative way:

  • Few people visited him in hospital (= he had almost no visitors)
  • He had little money (= almost no money)

Compound nouns made with SOME, ANY and NO


Some + -thing -body -one -where
Any +
No +


Compound nouns with some- and any- are used in the same way as some and any.

Positive statements:

  • Someone is sleeping in my bed.
  • He saw something in the garden.


  • Are you looking for someone? (= I'm sure you are)
  • Have you lost something? (= I'm sure you have)

Negative statements

  • She didn't go anywhere last night.
  • He doesn't know anybody here.

NOTICE that there is a difference in emphasis between nothing, nobody etc. and not ... anything, not ... anybody

  • I don't know anything about it. (= neutral, no emphasis)
  • I know nothing about it (= more emphatic, maybe defensive)


  • I have something to tell you.
  • There is something to drink in the fridge.


  • Is there anybody who speaks English here?
  • Does anybody have the time?


  • There is nobody in the house at the moment
  • When I arrived there was nobody to meet me.

ANY can also be used in positive statements to mean 'no matter which', 'no matter who', 'no matter what'

  • You can borrow any of my books.
  • They can choose anything from the menu.


Determiners Video Class.



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