A determiner is a word which comes before a noun or noun phrase. It indicates how the noun is being used, and which person or thing we mean. Determiners say something about number, definiteness, proximity and ownership. Determiners can ,also, be used in different groups. The articles a, an and the are the most common determiners.
a, an, the, my, your, his, her, its, our, their, this, that, these, those, some, any, whose, whichever, whatever, which, what, whose, one, two, three, first, second, third, etc.
This is a pen.
Here is the book you give me.
This is my car.
We have no bread.
All the good work is ruined.
We see her every Tuesday.
Neither answer is right.
Each man had a book.
All the children are playing. (determiners in group)
The first three players play well. (determiners in group)
Possessive markers and demonstratives are called determiners only if they precede a noun, if they stand alone, standing in place of a noun, then they are described as pronouns. It all depends on their use in the sentence.
This is my car. (Possessive as Determiner)
This car is mine. (Possessive as Pronoun)
This girl is my best friend. (Demonstrative as determiner)
This is my best friend. (Demonstrative as pronoun)
Classes of determiners
There are six classes of determiners:
1. Articles: a, an, the
2. Demonstrative determiners: this, that, these, those
3. Possessives determiners: my, your, his, her, its, our, their
4. Interrogative determiners: which, what, whose
5. Numbers: one, two, three, or first, second, third,
6. Indefinite determiners: all, any, both, each, either, every, few, less, more, enough, neither, etc.
a, an, the
Whenever you see an article, you will find a noun with it. Nouns are often preceded by the words a, an or the. These words are called Determiners. They show the kind of reference which the noun has.
Types of Articles
There are two types of articles:
i. Indefinite Articles (a, an)
ii. Definite Article (the)
“A” and “an” are called Indefinite Articles because they do not point to any particular noun. The noun remains indefinite. It is used when the noun is singular: a taxi, a paper, an apple, etc.
A doctor = Any doctor.
The choice between a and an is determined by sound. Before a word beginning with a vowel sound “an” is used; as, An ass, an enemy, an ink-stand, an orange, an umbrella, an hour, an honest man, an heir.
It can be noted that the words hour, honest, heir begin with a vowel sound, as the initial consonant “h” is not pronounced.
Before a word beginning with a consonant sound “a” is used; as, A boy, a woman, a yard, a horse, a hole, also a university, a union, a European, a useful article. Because these words (university, union, etc.) begin with a consonant sound, that of “you”. Similarly we say, a one rupee note, a one-eyed man. Because “one” begins with the consonant sound of “w”.
“The” is called the Definite Articles, because it points to some particular or definite noun.
The pen is in my pocket.
This is the man who came here yesterday.
In these examples “the” has been used before “pen” and “man” because the reference is to some definite pen and some definite man.
“The” is used both before countable singular nouns and countable plural nouns. It is also used before uncountable nouns.
The students are on strike today.
Here is the book you gave me.
The milk is in the glass.
2. The demonstrative determiners:
this, that, these those
“This” denotes something that is near to you and “these” is plural of “this”. That denotes a more distant person or thing and ‘those’ is plural of “that”. The demonstrative are called determiners only if they precede a noun, if they stand alone, standing in place of a noun, then they are described as pronouns.
Give me that pen. (Determiner)
Give that to me. (pronoun)
This girl is my best friend. (Determiner)
This is my best friend. (pronoun)
3. The possessive determiners:
(a) my, your, his, her, our, their (Determiners)
(b) Mine, Ours, Yours, Hers, Theirs, (Possessive Pronouns)
Words in group “a” above are called Determiners or Possessive Adjective because they are not used in place of a noun but they come just before the noun over which possession is shown. Words in group “b” are called Possessive Pronouns. The noun which they possess is not used after them. Possessive markers may be either determiners (If they qualify a noun) or pronouns (If they are standing in for a noun). It all depends on their use in the sentence.
This is my pen. (Determiner)
Your shirt is dirty. (Determiner)
That shirt is yours. (pronoun)
This is my car. (Determiner)
This car is mine. (pronoun)
4. The interrogative determiners:
which, what, whose
These determiners are used with nouns for asking questions.
Which road did you come by?
Whose pen is this?
What places would you like to see in Lalore?
one, two, three, etc.
first, second, third, etc.
Numbers are determiners when they come before a noun.
The Cardinal numbers are one, two, three, etc. and they answer the question.
I have five blue shirts.
The Ordinal number are first, second, third, etc. and they indicate an order.
It is my first prize.
6. Indefinite determiners:
the, all, any, both, each, either, every, few, less, more, enough, neither, no, several, some, only, neither, such, etc.
These words are called indefinite determiners. These words function as determiners only when they modify a noun. When they stand alone are pronouns.
All the boys are intelligent. (Determiner)
All is not lost. (Pronoun)
Both players are playing well. (Determiner)
Both are safe and sound. (Pronoun)
Each man had a car. (Determiner)
Each had a car. (Pronoun)