What Are Determiners?

Determiners in English are words placed in front of a noun to give more information or to specify quantity. Determiners are required before a singular noun but are optional when talking about plural nouns. Consider the placement and usage of the most famous determiner “the” in the following sentences:

Examples of Determiners in English:

  • The father went to work.
  • I ate the apple cookies every morning.
  • Plastic bags are recyclable.
  • The plastic bags are recyclable.
  • Those cats are so adorable
  • Many people are afraid of heights
  • Our house is large enough for all the guest

As you can see in the examples above the determiners are always placed before a noun.

In the first example it comes directly before the noun “father”, but in the second example it comes before the adjective “apple” that describes the noun “cookie”.

On the other hand, the third example happens to not show any determiner before the noun phrase “plastic bags” because, as we mentioned before, determiners are optional only when talking about plural nouns and plural noun phrases.

Types of Determiners in English :

Determiners can take different forms and types as shown in the following:

  • Articles: they are used to specify nouns. They indicate whether the noun is singular or plural (the, a, or an).
  • Demonstratives: they help define the relationship between noun or pronoun with the speaker, and they are well known for the following words (this, that, these, and those.)
  • Possessive adjectives: they are basically the following words: my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their. They are used to talk about ownership or possession of something.
  • Quantifiers: words used to indicate how much or how little of the noun is being discussed, words used to talk about quantifiers include all, few, and many.
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