Determiners are words that modify nouns. In other words, determiners are words that can be used before nouns to determine or to modify their meaning. Determiners function like adjectives. They are also called as fixing words.

Characteristics of Determiners

Characteristics of determiners are as follows:

  • A determiner may determine or fix a place, person or thing.
  • A determiner may identify two or more persons or things.
  • A determiner may precede numerals or objects.
  • A determiner may indicate a quantity or amount.

Classification of Determiners

Determiners can be classified into:

1. Articles : A, an , the.

2. Demonstrative Adjectives : This, that, these, those.

3. Quantifiers : A quantifier is a word or phrase which is used before noun to indicate the amount or quantity. Types of quantifiers are as follows:

i) Definite : One, two hundred,………., first, second, both etc.
ii) Indefinite : Some, many , much , enough, few, a few, all, little, a little, several, most, etc.
iii) Distributive : Each, every, all, either ,neither.
iv) Difference : Another, other.
v) Comparative : More, less, fewer.

4. Possessives : My, your, his, her, its, our, their, mine, hers, yours, ours, theirs, etc.

Determiners and Kinds of Nouns With Which They are Used

A, an , each, everyone, another and either are used with singular countable nouns.

This and that are used with uncountable nouns/singular countable nouns.

These and those are used with uncountable nouns/plural countable nouns.

A little, a lot of, a great deal of, much are used with uncountable nouns.

More, most, a lot of, enough, adequate, some are used with uncountable nouns/plural countable nouns.

A few, several, many , both are used with plural nouns.

The , some, any, my, her, your , our, their, its, which, whose, what are used with any type of noun.

Articles : A, An, The

Articles are used before nouns. ‘A’ is used before a noun starting with a consonant sound and ‘An’ is used before a noun starting with a vowel sound. ‘The’ is used before singular countable nouns, plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns.

Use of Indefinite Articles : A/An

‘A’ is used before a noun beginning with a consonant sound.

e.g. a woman, a horse, a university
(Here woman, horse and university are words beginning with a consonant sound.)

‘An’ is used before a noun beginning with a vowel sound.

e.g. an orange, an egg, an elephant, an hour
(Here, orange, egg, elephant and hour and words beginning with a vowel sound)

How to Use ‘A’ and ‘An’

The use of ‘a’ and ‘an’ is determined by sound. The following words begin with a vowel, but not with a vowel sound. A unique thing, a one rupee coin, a European , a unicorn, a university, a useful thing, a union.
So, here ‘a’ is used.

On the other hand, with the following words, ‘an’ is used although they being with a consonant.
An hour, an honest man, an heir to the throne, an MCA. Here , the sound is the criterion to decide whether a/an will be used.

Use of Definite Article : The

‘The’ is used before singular countable nouns, plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns do not have plural forms, e.g., we cannot say ‘sugars’ , we will say ‘the sugar’.

‘The’ is used :

I. While talking about a particular person or thing or one already referred to (that is, when it is clear from the context which one do we mean).
e.g. The book you want is not available.

II. When a singular noun represents the whole class.
e.g. The dog is a faithful animal.

III. Before some proper names that denote physical features.

i) Oceans and seas e.g. The Pacific Ocean, The Arabian Sea
ii) Rivers e.g. The Yamuna, The Thames
iii) Canals e.g. The Suez Canal
iv) Deserts e.g. the Thar Desert, the Sahara Desert
v) Group of Islands e.g. the West Indies, the Netherlands
vi) Mountain ranges e.g. the Himalayas, the Satpura Ranges
vii) A few names of countries, which include words like States, Republic of Kingdom e.g. The People’s Republic of China, the United Kingdom, the USA, the Republic of Korea, the Hague etc.

IV. Before the names of religious or mythological books.
e.g. the Vedas, the Puranas, the Mahabharata
(but we say Homer’s Iliad, Valmiki’s Ramayana)

V. Before the names of things which are unique or one of their kind.
e.g. the Sun, the Moon, the Pacific Ocean.

VI. Before a proper noun, when it is qualified by an adjective or a defining adjectival clause.
e.g. The Great Caesar, the King of Rome
The Mr Verma whom you met last night is boss.

VII. With superlative degrees.
e.g. This is the worst performance I have ever seen.

VIII. With ordinals.
e.g. He was the first man to walk on the Moon.

IX. Before musical instruments.
e.g. He can play the tabla very well.

X. Before an adjective when the noun is understood.
e.g. The rich always exploit the poor. (Here the word ‘people’ is understood.)

XI. As an adverb with comparatives.
e.g. The more money we have, the more we want.

Omission of Article ‘The’

I. Before material, abstract and proper nouns used in a general sense.
e.g. a) Honesty is the best policy. (not The honesty…….)
b) Sugar tastes sweet. (not The sugar…….)
c) Paris is the capital of France. (not The Paris……)

II. Before plural countable nouns used in a general sense.
e.g. Children like toys.

III. Before names of people.
e.g. Rohit.

IV. Before names of continents, countries; cities etc.
e.g. Europe, Pakistan, Nagpur.

V. Before names of individual mountains.
e.g. Mount Everest

VI. Before names of meals used in a general sense.
e.g. Dinner is ready.

VII. Before languages and words like school, college, university, church, hospital.
e.g. a) I learn English at school.
b) My uncle is still in hospital.

VIII. Before names of relations, like father, mother, etc.
e.g. Father is still not at home.

IX. In certain phrases consisting of preposition followed by its object.
e.g. At home, in hand, by night, in case, on foot, by train, on demand etc.

Demonstrative Adjectives (This, That, These, Those)

I. That ( in case of plural, those)

a) It is used to avoid the repetition of the preceding noun(s).

e.g. My bat is better than that of my friend.
Our soldiers are better equipped than those of Pakistan.

b) It refers to person(s) or thing(s) far from the speaker.

e.g. Get that dog out of here.
Those houses are for sale.

II. This (in case of plural, these)

a) It refers to person(s) or thing(s) near the speaker.

e.g. This book is very interesting.
These flowers are very beautiful.


‘Some’, ‘many’ ‘a lot of’ and ‘a few’ are examples of quantifiers. Quantifiers can be used in affirmative sentences, questions, requests or commands with both countable and uncountable nouns.


  • There are some books on the desk.
  • He’s got only a few dollars.
  • How much money have you got?
  • There is a large quantity of fish in this river.
  • He’s got more friends than his sister.

Some quantifiers can go only with countable nouns (e.g. friends, people, cups)  , some can go only with uncountable nouns (e.g. sugar, tea, money, advice), while some can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

Examples of quantifiers are given below:

Only with Uncountable Nouns With both Countable and Uncountable Nouns Only with Countable Nouns
a little no, none, not any a few
a bit of some, all a number of
any several
a great deal of a lot of, lots of a great number of
a large amount of plenty of a large number of

Usage of quantifiers are as follows:

I. Use of few/a few and little /a little : 

a) Few, a few and the few.

Few emphasises the lack of something.
e.g. There are few sweets left in the jar.
(We should be careful not to eat them too quickly because they are almost finished.)

A few emphasises that something still remains.
e.g. We still have a few minutes left before the class gets over. So you have any questions?
(We still have some time, we should use it.)

b) Little, a little and the little

Little emphasises the lack of something.
e.g. We have little money right now; we should go out for dinner another day.
(We should be careful and use the money wisely because we don’t have much.)

A little emphasises that something still remains.
e.g. There’s a little ice-cream left, ; who will eat it?
(There’s not enough ice-cream left to put back in the freezer, so it should be eaten.)

II. Use of much and many

a) We use much with singular uncountable nouns and many with plural nouns.

e.g. I haven’t got much change; I’ve got a hundred rupee note.
Are there many campsites near your place?

b) We usually use much and many with interrogative sentences and negative sentences.

e.g. Is there much unemployment in that area?
How many eggs have not been used in this cake?
Do you think many people will come?
The rain was pouring down in torrents but there wasn’t much wind.

III. Use of more, less and fewer
(comparative determiners)

a) We use more or less before singular uncountable nouns by adding than after it, or for an additional or lesser quantity of something.

e.g. I do more work than Suresh.
Please give me some more salad.
Satish does less work than me.
I want less salad than Mahesh.

b) We use fewer before plural countable nouns to refer to a group of things smaller than another.

e.g. Fewer students succeeded in passing than last year.
We had fewer computers a year ago.

IV. Use of each and every (distributive determiners)

a) We use each for two or more than two items and every for more than two items. Both of these are followed by singular countable nouns and singular verbs.

e.g. Each of the two boys has won a prize.
Every student in the school is present today.

b) We use each when the number in the group is limited or definite, but every is used when the number is indefinite or unknown.

e.g. Each student in my class was promoted.
Every person in the world has a parent.

V. Use of most, several and all

a) We usually use most with plural uncountable nouns.

e.g. Most of the people can be trusted.
Most of the time I am not at home.

b) We usually use several with plural nouns, put it refers to a number which is not very large. (i.e. less than most)

e.g. Several people were crushed in the stampede.
Several people lost their lives in the Tsunami.

c) All requires a plural verb when used with a countable noun, but requires a singular verb with an uncountable noun.

e.g. All are going to Delhi.
All that glitters is not gold.

VI. Use of another and other

We use another only with singular countable nouns, whereas other can be used with singular countable, plural countable or uncountable nouns.

e.g. Bring me another knife, as this one is blunt.
I would prefer the other house.
The other students went back home.
He is a better human being than most others.

VII. Use of either and neither

a) We use either to refer to two things, people, situations etc. I may mean one or the other of two or each of the two.
e.g. I don’t agree with either Ram or Shyam.

b) We use neither with only singular countable nouns and a singular verb. Neither is the negative or either.
e.g. Neither of the two boys passed the exam.

Possessives (My, Your, His, Her, Its, Our, Their etc.)

Possessive determiners or possessive adjectives tell us who owns something. We use a possessive determiner before a noun to show who owns the noun we are talking about. They come in front of any other adjectives.

e.g. This is your book.
That is our beautiful house.

We use different possessive determines depending on who owns the thing we are talking about.

Subject Possessive Determiner Used with Type of Noun
I my first person singular
We our first person plural
You your second person singular/plural
They their third person plural
He his third person singular masculine
She her third person singular feminine
It its third person singular neuter

My, her, his and its are used with singular nous, while our and their are used with plural nouns. Your can be used with either singular or plural nouns, depending on the sense.

e.g. This is my book.
The dog licked its paw.
Which is their car?
All three of you, have you done your homework?