Determiners English Grammar

Determiners, like adjectives, are words that are used before a noun. But, while adjectives modify a noun, determiners specify the noun.

Determiners and Adjectives

Determiners introduce the noun by specifying, or quantifying it. They tell which one or how much. Determiners can be used only before a noun. In fact, they occur before the adjective or other words that modify the noun.

determiners chart

Adjectives provide extra information about the noun. They tell the quality of the noun and can occur before or after a noun.

Possessive adjectives (always used before nouns) are used to show who owns the noun.

For example:

■ Our papers have been marked.

Possessive pronoun are used in the place of a noun can be replaced with one.

For example

■  Ours have been marked.

■  Papers have been marked.

A noun phrase can have more than one determiner.

For example

■ All these carpets are for sale

■ Both my feet are hurting.

Determiners are positioned before the adjective and noun modifiers in a noun phrase.

For example

■ the expensive gold ring

■ every little scrap of paper

Uses of Determiners

We cannot use all determiners with all kinds of nouns, though some can be used with all kinds of nouns.

The table below lists some determiners and their usage.

a/an another each,
either, every, neither, one
With singular countable nouna book
another book
much, little, a little, lesswith singular un countable nounmuch love
a little care
both, many, few,
a few, two, three, four
with plural countable nounboth boys
a few people
all, any, some, enoughwith plural uncountable noun
and plural countable noun
some boys
all the children
my, your, his, her, such, no, which,what, whosewith any kind of
nouns – singular/plural: countable/uncountable
no pens
your games
this, thatsingular un countable nounthis milk
that library
these, thoseplural nounthese shops
those pelicans

little, a little, the little

We use little, a little, the little with uncountable nouns.

Little suggests almost nothing or not much.

A little suggests some or a small amount

The little suggests not much, but all of that is or was there,

For example:

■ There is little risk in gliding, so you can try it.

■ There is a little risk in water sports, so venture into it only with a lifeguard.

■ The little risk in water sports can be secured by using a life jacket.

We can use a little to modify adjectives or adverbs.

For example:

■ It is a little colder now.

■ Walk a little fast, please.

few, a few, the few

We use few, a few, the few with countable nouns.

Few suggests not many or almost none.

A few suggests some or a small number.

The few suggests not many, but all of that is or was there

For example:

■ Few people understand the value of healthy eating.

■ A few people consult dieticians.

■ The few people who eat healthy should also exercise.

A little and a few can be used as pronouns as well.

For example:

■ I have a few.

■ They do share a little.


In this Post, we have learnt that

■ determiners specify or quantify a noun, unlike adjectives that modify a noun;

■ a determiner is always used before a noun and cannot be removed from the sentence; and.

■ not all determiners can be used with all kinds of nouns.