Determiners and usage


Determiners are words placed in front of a noun to make it clear what the noun refers to. The Words all, both, the, my, your, two, four, another, and such are some examples of determiners.

There are many types of determiners:

  1. Articles

    An article  is a word  that is used before a noun to indicate the type of reference is being made by the noun. Articles specify grammatical definiteness of the noun, in some languages extending to volume or numerical scope. The articles in the English language are the, a, and an.  There are two different types of articles that we use in writing and conversation to point out or refer to a noun or group of nouns- definite and indefinite articles.

    Definite Article

    A definite article indicates that its noun is a particular one which is identifiable to the listener. It may be something that the speaker has already mentioned, or it may be something uniquely specified. ‘The’ is the one and only definite article in English, which means that it refers to, or introduces, a particular, specific noun. ‘The’ is used for both singular and plural nouns.


    The man you are talking about is not a good man.

    -Is it the same car you bought last year?

    -Where is the book you were supposed to show me?

    -I have been to the Taj Mahal, India.

    -What is the capital of the United States?

    -This is the guy who bullies my son.

    Indefinite Articles.

    In English language, there are two indefinite articles a and an. Unlike ‘the’ indefinite articles are used before a noun when the noun represents a common group (doctor, boy, car, etc) .  They are also used in exclamatory sentences (what a shame!) The indefinite articles are also used to represent the number one (I want to buy an umbrella.) The usage of a or an depends on the first letter of the word following the article, for pronunciation reasons. The article a is used when the next word starts with the sound of a consonant,  Use an when the next word starts with the sound of a vowel (a,e,i,o,u).  You have to keep in mind the sound, not the alphabet of the next word for the correct selection between a and an.


    -Do not give me a lame reason.

    -I am planning to buy a car.

    -My brother is a doctor.

    -Wish I had a necklace like that.

    -I will be there in half an hour. ( consider how the word hour sounds)

    -It is an honour to be here with you. ( consider how the word honour sounds)

  1. Quantifiers

Quantifiers are the words that describe quantity, and are answers to questions like “how many, how far, how much)

Examples: Most, many, far off, some, any enough, etc.

  1. Demonstratives

This, that, these and those are known are demonstratives; they describe the position of an object, seen from the speaker’s viewpoint.

This and these (used for singular and plural nouns respectively) are used to refer to objects that are close by. For example: This is my cellphone.  These are my clothes.

That and those (used for singular and plural nouns respectively)are used to refer to objects that are away. The distance can be physical or psychological. For example: That house belongs to my aunt, Jenny. Those were the days.

  1. Numbers

Numbers are cardinal (one, two, three, etc) and ordinal (first, second, third, etc). Cardinal numbers are adjectives that indicate quantity (There are fives apples on the table), and ordinal numbers indicate rank or order (This is the first time for me on a plane).

  1. Distributives

The words all, both, half, each, every, either and neither are known as distributives.

All, Both, Half

These three words can be used in the following ways:


uncountable noun

Amitabh  is the best actor of all time.

I have struggled all my life.

We have all the ingredients to the successs.


Both the brothers don’t value both the parents.

I like both- coffee and tea.

Both these t-shirts must be washed immediately


We bought half a kilo of sugar.

You don’t know half of the truth.

Half the team got out before reaching the 50 run mark.

(Each, Every, Either, Neither are some other  examples)


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