What is a Determiner?

A determiner is a word that goes before a noun in a noun phrase. If the noun in the phrase has an adjective that precedes it, the determiner will precede the adjective.

Singular nouns are always preceded by a determiner. Plural nouns, however, are preceded by a determiner only if these nouns behave as one group.

There are four types of determiners:
1. Articles
2. Demonstratives
3. Quantifiers
4. Possessives

Let’s take a closer look at each one of them.


There are three articles in all: a, an, and the. A and an are called indefinite articles. They are used in front of singular nouns when the nouns are not specific. The is called the definite article because it is specific. “The can be used in front of both singular and plural nouns.


  1. I walked past a car.
  2. Jess ate an apple.
  3. The Statue of Liberty is beautiful.
  4. I partied in the islands of Minoa.
  5. A monkey stole my sandwich.
  6. An emoticon a day keeps the blues away.


Demonstratives are words such as this, that, these and those that are used to point at people, places, things, etc.
This and that are always used before singular nouns while these and those are used before plural nouns.


  1. This tree is the world’s best tree.
  2. James slept in that cave.
  3. These are my favourite people.
  4. The monastery lies beyond those hills.


As the name suggests, quantifiers are used to suggest how much/many of a noun is being talked about. Some, many, all, few, and much are some quantifiers. These aren’t the only ones though. There are more.


  1. The dragon ate some men.
  2. The dragon ate many men.
  3. The dragon ate all the men.
  4. the dragon ate a few men.
  5. The dragon ate much meat, and he burped loudly.


Possessives are used for discussing possession. My, your, her, his, their, its and our are examples of possessives. All possessives work grammatically with both singular and plural nouns.


  1. My brother sat on his cycle.
  2. My brothers hunted deer in America.
  3. Your wish is my command.
  4. Your wishes are my commands.
  5. The chimpanzee grabbed her hair.
  6. The worm cursed its foolishness.
  7. Our country is an amazing country.
  8. Our toys are the best in Bangladesh.
A mind map explaining what a determiner is and the types of determiners
Determiners in a nutshell… Zoom in if required.

I hope this post has made the concept of determiners clearer for you. If you notice anything that needs correcting, please drop a comment.

Disclaimer: All images used on this site are either self created, in the public domain or licensed Creative Commons 0.

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