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Determiners are words placed in front of a noun to make it clear what that noun refers to. It is a key article of speech used to modify nouns or noun equivalents. A determiner is used at the beginning of a noun group to indicate which thing you are referring to or whether you are referring to one thing or several. Determiners help clarify what a noun is referring to and are typically placed before the noun or the descriptive adjectives.
Determiners explain whether we are speaking about something general or something specific. These clarifying words gives the reader or listener more information about the noun. The two main functions of determiners are referring and quantifying. Determiners are required before a singular noun but are optional when it comes to introducing plural nouns. Referring means it shows us who or what the noun is pointing to or talking about. Quantifying means it shows how much or how many of something there is.
Determiners are functional elements of structure and not formal word classes, because the group of words contains some items that are nouns, some that are pronouns, and some that are adjectives.
Examples of Determiners
- The tortoise won the race.
- An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
- These berries are sour.
- Many students were absent today.
- She is my best friend.
- The tree shed its leaves.
- Is this your bag?
- There are thirty students in the class.
- Some people were arrested during the protest.
- Do you have enough flour to make the bread?
Types of Determiners
The different types of determiners are mentioned below:
The indefinite article a or an.
eg: He is an honest man.
The definite article the.
eg: The cat is drinking milk.
The demonstratives like this, that, these, those.
eg: These grapes are sweeter than those.
The possessives like my, your, his, her, their, our.
eg: He is my brother.
Numbers, both cardinal and ordinal.
eg: She has two sisters.
He came first in the race.
The pre determiners like what, such.
eg: What a shame!
He’s such a loser!
The distributives each, every, either, neither.
eg: Neither of them saw the thief.
Each and every one should attend the conference.
The quantifiers like many, few, much, some etc.
eg: There are a few apples in the box.
Tips to Use Determiners
Here are some rules which will help you learn how, when and where to use determiners.
- Determiners always come first in the noun phrase.
- Determiners come before adjectives (or other adjectives) when used to modify nouns.
- Determiners are required with singular nouns and are optional with plural nouns.
- Use a definite article, demonstrative pronoun, possessive pronoun, or quantifier with a singular noun.
- Determiners follow all of the same rules as adjectives.
- Determiners cannot be used in comparative and superlative forms.
- Use definite articles, demonstrative pronouns, possessive pronouns, or quantifiers while talking about the plural noun in particular.
- Determiners are rarely used preceding singular proper nouns.
- Determiners are required for singular countable nouns whereas uncountable nouns do not necessarily need determiners.
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