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A determiner,[1] also called determinative (abbreviated DET), is a word, phrase, or affix that occurs together with a noun or noun phrase and generally serves to express the reference of that noun or noun phrase in the context. That is, a determiner may indicate whether the noun is referring to a definite or indefinite element of a class, to a closer or more distant element, to an element belonging to a specified person or thing, to a particular number or quantity, etc. Common kinds of determiners include definite and indefinite articles (the, a), demonstratives (this, that), possessive determiners (my, their), cardinal numerals (one, two), quantifiers (many, both), distributive determiners (each, every), and interrogative determiners (which, what).


In some languages, the role of certain determiners can be played by affixes (prefixes or suffixes) attached to a noun or by other types of inflection. For example, definite articles are represented by suffixes in Romanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, and Swedish. (For example, in Swedish, bok ("book"), when definite, becomes boken ("the book"), while the Romanian caiet ("notebook") similarly becomes caietul ("the notebook").) Some languages, such as Finnish, have possessive affixes, which play the role of possessive determiners like my and his.

Universal grammar is the theory that all humans are born equipped with grammar, and all languages share certain properties. There are arguments that determiners are not a part of universal grammar and are instead part of an emergent syntactic category. This has been shown through the studies of some languages' histories, including Dutch.[5][how?]

Determiners may be predeterminers, central determiners or postdeterminers, based on the order in which they can occur.[citation needed] For example, "all my many very young children" uses one of each. "My all many very young children" is not grammatically correct because a central determiner cannot precede a predeterminer.

Distributive determiners, also called distributive adjectives, consider members of a group separately, rather than collectively. Words such as each and every are examples of distributive determiners.

Some modern grammatical approaches regard determiners as heads of their own phrases. In such approaches, noun phrases are generally dominated by determiner phrases whose heads are often null. Noun phrases that contain only a noun and do not have a determiner present are known as bare noun phrases.[9] For more detail on theoretical approaches to the status of determiners, see Noun phrase Noun phrases with and without determiners.

Some theoreticians analyze pronouns as determiners or determiner phrases. See Pronoun: Theoretical considerations. This is consistent with the determiner phrase viewpoint, whereby a determiner, rather than the noun that follows it, is taken to be the head of the phrase.

A determiner is a word that modifies, describes, or introduces a noun. Determiners can be used to clarify what a noun refers to (e.g., your car) and to indicate quantity or number (e.g., four wheels).

  • The festival has been postponed due to bad weather.Table of contentsHow are determiners used in sentences?

  • Definite and indefinite articles

  • Demonstrative determiners

  • Possessive determiners

  • Numbers

  • Distributive determiners

  • Interrogative determiners

  • Quantifiers

  • Determiners of difference

  • Other interesting language articles

  • Frequently asked questions

A determiner modifies or describes a noun by clarifying what it refers to. Determiners do this by indicating qualities such as possession, relative position, and quantity. In a noun phrase, determiners come before nouns.

Demonstrative determiners (also called demonstrative adjectives or simply demonstratives) are used to indicate relative positions of a noun. The demonstrative determiners are:

We were very close in those days, but we rarely see each other these days.NoteDemonstrative determiners are identical in form to their equivalent demonstrative pronouns. The difference is that demonstrative pronouns stand on their own rather than modifying a noun.

Distributive determiners (also called distributive adjectives) are used to refer to a group or to individual people or objects within a group. The distributive determiners are all, each, every, both, half, either, and neither.

Neither Lina nor John has met the new neighbors.Interrogative determinersAn interrogative determiner (also called an interrogative adjective) modifies a noun or pronoun in a direct or indirect question. The interrogative determiners are what, which, and whose.

Most of the time, determiners are further divided into smaller categories. As mentioned before, some or all of these words may or may not be considered to be other parts of speech depending on which grammar resource you use.

Demonstratives, when referring to determiners, refer to the words this, that, these, and those. All four of these words are also often classified as demonstrative adjectives or demonstrative pronouns depending on how they are used in a sentence. However, determiners only modify nouns (or noun equivalents). Whether or not these four words are classified as demonstratives or demonstrative adjectives (or both) varies depending on the grammar resource.

To learn more about how this, that, these, and those can be used to modify nouns, check out our guide to demonstrative adjectives. Everything covered there also applies to demonstratives as determiners.

What is a determiner? Simply put, in English, a determiner is a word that introduces a noun or provides information about the quantity of a noun. It always comes before a noun, not after, and it also comes before any other adjectives used to describe the noun. Determiners are required before a singular noun but are optional when it comes to introducing plural nouns.

Articles are among the most common determiners. There are three singular articles: a, an and the. Articles specify (or determine) which noun the speaker is referring to.

Demonstrative pronouns are also used as determiners in English. There are four of them: this, that, these, and those. Demonstratives are used in situations where the speaker can point to the item they mean, making them even more specific than a definite article.

All can be used with other determiners to specify which particular items are meant (i.e. all the books in this pile). In this case, the quantifier always comes before the article or demonstrative. It's also possible to use all alone to refer to items generally, as in the second example.

How should you choose which determiner to use? For native English speakers, determining which determiner to use is second nature, since determiners are so often used in front of nouns. For people learning English as a second language, it's helpful to remember a few rules:

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. Now that you have a solid grasp of determiners, take a look at what a conjunction is.

In the English language, determiners are used before a noun to introduce it or to provide more information on the noun, such as how many there are. If there are any adjectives before the noun to describe it then the determiner will also come before them.

By familiarising yourself with the definitions of determiners, as stated above, it can become much easier to identify which ones should be used in which sentences. If you are still struggling, try to compare the sentence that you are trying to say with the examples used above, and work out which one it is most similar to in structure.

Abstract:This paper focuses on the factors influencing the language of determiners in nominal constructions in two sets of bilingual data: Spanish/English from Miami and Spanish/English creole from Nicaragua. Previous studies (Liceras et al. 2008; Moro Quintanilla 2014) have argued that Spanish determiners are preferred in mixed nominal constructions because of their grammaticised nature. However, those studies did not take the matrix language into account, even though Herring et al. (2010) found that the language of the determiner matched the matrix language. Therefore, we hypothesise that the matrix language is the main influence on the language of the determiner in both mixed and unmixed nominal constructions. The results are consistent with our hypothesis that the matrix language of the clause provides the language of the determiner in mixed and unmixed Determiner Phrases (DPs). Once the matrix language is controlled for, the Miami data show a greater tendency for Spanish determiners to appear in mixed DPs than English determiners. However, in the Nicaragua data, we found only mixed DPs with an English creole determiner. This suggests that bilingual communities do not always follow the same pattern, and that social rather than grammatical factors may be at play. We conclude that while the language of the determiner is influenced by clause-internal structure, that of its noun complement and the matrix language itself depends on extralinguistic considerations.Keywords: code-switching; matrix language; determiner-phrases; Spanish; English; Nicaraguan Creole English 041b061a72


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