A determiner is a word which typically forms the first element in a noun phrase. Examples are: the, my, this, much, any, those etc. A determiner limits the meaning of a noun phrase in some way. Although determiners come at the beginning of noun phrases, they are not adjectives.
- Every week
- Each boy
- That girl
- My dad
There are two main types of determiners.
Group A determiners and Group B determiners
Group A determiners
Group A determiners help to identify things. Examples are:
- Articles: a/an, the
- Possessives: my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their, one’s, whose etc.
- Demonstratives: thing, that, these, those
Note that the possessives my, your, his etc., are strictly determiners, and not pronouns. Nevertheless, some traditional grammars still lable them as possessive pronouns.
We cannot put two group A determiners together. We can say my cat, that cat or a cat, but not a my cat, the my cat, or my that cat.
In order to put together the meanings of a possessive and article / demonstrative, we have to use the structure a/this … of mine/yours/ theirs etc.
Group B determiners
Most Group B determiners are quantifiers. They say how much or many we are talking about.
- some, any, no
- each, every, either, neither
- much, many, more, most, little, less, least, enough, several etc
- all, both, half
- what, whatever, which, whichever
- one, two, three, etc.
Some Group B determiners are used with singular nouns (e.g. each), some with plurals (e.g. many) and some with uncountable nouns (e.g. much). There are also some determiners which are used with more than one kind of noun (e.g. which)