Determiners, kinds of determiners, use of determiners

Determiners, kinds of determiners, use of determiners

Determiners, kinds of determiners, use of determiners

What are Determiners?

Determiners means determine the position of the noun and the words which are used to determine or find the position of the noun are known as determiners.

Look at the sentences given below carefully:

  1. You take an apple every day.
  2. He is popular in this class.
  3. I have little money to help you.
  4. Give me that pen.
  5. Our team won the match.
  6. These mangoes are green.
  7. Each boy got a packet of sweets.
  8. There is not any ink in this ink-pot.
  9. I do not see any sense in going there now.
  10. Every student was given a book.

In all these sentences, the words in italic type indicate that a noun is going to be used. These words determine the position of a noun. Such words are called Determiners.

Also read, Prepositions rules learning, Prepositions practice exercises

Kinds of Determiners:

1 2 3

a, an, the


this, that, these, those


my, her, his, him, our, their, etc.

4 5 6

one, two, first, both, none, few, a few,

each, every, either, neither


some, any, much, more,

less, little, a little, the little


what (ever), Which (ever),

whosoever, whose

Use of Articles:

‘A’ and ‘an’ are Indefinite Articles.

Use of ‘A’

Article ‘A’ is used:

1.) before singular common nouns not beginning with a vowel sound.


  • a boy
  • a table
  • a young man
  • a year
  • a useful thing
  • a utensil
  • a European country
  • a history book
  • a one-eyed man

2.) In the sense of any, every or single:


  • He did not speak a word.
  • He makes thirty thousand a year.

3.) before a Proper Noun to make it a common Noun


  • He is a Milton (an inspired poet).
  • He is a second Newton (a great scientist)

Use of ‘An’

1.) Before a Common noun Singular form beginning with a vowel sound, as;


  • an orange
  • an egg
  • an owl
  • an umbrella
  • an inkpot
  • an M.L.A
  • an S.D.O
  • an enemy

2.) Before a Common Noun Singular form beginning with silent ‘h’


  • an honest man
  • an honorable man
  • an heir

Use of the Definite Article ‘the’

The Definite Article (the) is used in the following cases:

1.) For a particular person, thing or animal that has already been mentioned:


I have a coat.

  • The coat has a pocket.
  • The pocket has a pen in it.
  • The pen is blue in color.

2.) To denote the whole class:


  • The dog is a faithful animal.
  • The camel is the ship of the desert.

3.) Before Adjectives in the Superlative Degree:


  • He is the best man in the city.
  • She is the most beautiful girl in the town.

4.) Before Comparatives:


  • The higher you go, the cooler it is.
  • This is the better of the two pens.

5.) In certain phrases:


  • You met him on the way.
  • She is on the point of death.
  • Rajan will win in the long run.
  • You are in the wrong.
  • Crime is on the decrease.
  • On the whole, the scheme is good.n

6.) Before words indicating number, weight, and measure


  • The cloth is sold by the meter.
  • Oranges are sold by the dozen.

7.) Before words denoting well-known historical events.


  • The French Revolution. The Partition of India.
  • The Liberation of Bangla Desh.

8.) Before the names of rivers, canals, ranges, sacred books, oceans, mountains, islands, a few countries and states where the names are descriptive, trains, buildings, etc.


  • The Himalayas
  • The Sutlej
  • The United States of America
  • The U.K
  • The Indian Ocean
  • The Bhakhar Canal
  • The Gita
  • The Tribune
  • The Taj
  • The Golden Temple
  • The Shan-E-Punjab
  • The Gnat

9.) Before a Proper Noun used as a Common Noun, before Common Noun used as an Abstract Noun:


  • Lala Lajpat Rai was the lion of Punjab. Kalidas is called the Shakespeare of India.
  • Gandhi Ji is the father (= having the quality of) of the nation.
  • The beast (=beastly quality) in man sometimes overpowers the angel (angelic quality) in him.
  • He is the star of the family

10.) To give superlative force to Noun:


  • He is the professor. (= the best)
  • He is the hero of the home. (= the best)
  • It is the event of the year. (=the best)

11.) Before high titles of honor and rank:


  • Pitt the younger
  • the Great Caesar
  • The Honorable Minister
  • The Immortal Shakespeare
  • Alexander the Great

12.) Before the names of communities, nations, and commissions:


  • The Sikhs
  • the English
  • the Sarkaria Commission

13.) Before unique objects and objects or Strength:


  • The moon
  • the earth
  • the sky
  • the tempest

14.) Before ordinals:


  • The 3rd prize
  • the second son
  • the fourth girl
  • the 10th of June

15.) Before the organs of the body:


  • The head
  • the heart
  • the liver
  • the lungs

16.) Before a thing which stands for the agent, or the thing associated:


  • The pen (=those who use the pen) is mightier than the sword (= those who use the sword).
  • The hand (mother) that rocks the cradle rules the world. He is fond of the bottle (=liquor).

17.) Before an Adjective to make it a Noun in the Plural:


  • The rich must help the poor.
  • The educated should teach the illiterate.

18.) Before an Adverb in such sentences as:


  • The more they get, the more they want.
  • The more you speak, the less I understand.

Cases Where Articles Should not be Used

  1. Before a Common Noun used in its widest sense.
  2. Before Proper Nouns.
  3. In certain Verbal Phrases
  4. Before Abstract Nouns
  5. Before Material Nouns

Use of Numerical and Quantitative

Determiners and Wh-determiners

1.) Some and Any

Some mean a small number. Some are followed by an Uncomfortable Singular Noun or Countable Plural Noun. when used with a Plural Noun it means ‘a few’ or a small number.


  • He bought some mangoes. (a small number)
  • Give me some milk. (a small quantity)
  • There are some boys in the class. (a few)
  • There is some ink in the ink-pot. (a small amount)

Generally, some is used in an affirmative statement while any is used in negative statement or questions.


  • There are some good girls in the class (Affirmative)
  • Are there any good girls in the class? (questions)
  • There are not any good girls in the class. (Negative)
  • There is some tea in the soup. (Affirmative)
  • Is there any tea in the cup?

2.) Few, A Few, The Few

  • Few = very small number or zero
  • A Few = some
  • The Few= small but all the ones under reference.


  • He has few friends in the city. (almost none)
  • He does have a few friends in the city. (a small number)
  • The few friends he has been loyal to him. (whatever small number)

3.) Each, Every

  • Each = everyone out of a known number or group.
  • Every = each thing or a person of the whole.


  • Each player was given some prize.
  • Each speaker will be given five minutes.
  • Every person carried the torch.
  • Every child likes sweets.

4.) Either, Neither

  • Either =  one of the two.
  • Neither = none of the two.


  • Either book is useful to me.
  • Neither house suits me.

5.) Little, a little, the little

  • Little =  very small amount, almost negligible
  • A little = Some amount, though not much.
  • The little = whatever little exists, but the whole of it.


  • There is little water in the jug. (very, very small or none at all)
  • There is a little water in the jug. (some, water, not much)
  • I have drunk the little water the jug had. (whatever little it had)

6.) Much, more, Less

Much is generally used with uncountable singular nouns while More is used with uncountable singular nouns and countable plural nouns.


  • He has not taken much water today.
  • You need some more water today.
  • More boys were called in to help.
  • We spent less time in Shimla than in Kufri.
  • If you are careful you’ll have less trouble.

7.) Wh-words as Determiners

  • What books have you read?
  • Whose children are they?
  • Which pen do you like?

Once you learn the dictionary definition of each determiner as you study English vocabulary, it becomes easy to select the determiner that best expresses your meaning, whether you want to show ownership, quantity or relative location.

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