A determiner is a word which goes before a noun, it helps identify the noun and gives information about it. There are several different types of determiners but articles are the most common. In this summary, you will learn how and when to use determiners correctly.
Articles are the most common kind of determiner, you use them all the time without thinking about it. The definite article is the. The is used to talk about a specific noun or thing. The indefinite articles are a and an. A and an are used to talk about a general noun or idea rather than a specific object.
Let's meet at the cinema.
I'm going to buy a book.
Please put it on the table.
I'd like to spot an owl.
Tip: Use a before a noun which starts with a consonant, and an before a noun which starts with a vowel.
Other types of determiners give different information about the noun they precede. Remember, determiners are almost always found just in front of a noun.
These are demonstrative determiners, they tell you how close an object is to the speaker. Use this (singular) and these (plural) to talk about an object which is close to the speaker. Use that (singular) and those (plural) to talk about an object which is further away from the speaker.
Can you see that tower over there in the distance?
They built these houses right here last year.
These are possessive determiners, they tell you who an object belongs to.
The yellow one is my lunchbox, mum packed it for me this morning.
That red lunchbox belongs to Will, it's his favourite one.
These are quantifiers, they tell you about the number or amount of a noun or thing.
Is there any chocolate in the cupboard?
I think there is some left on the top shelf.
There isn't much food in the house, so I think we need to go shopping.
Tip: Any is only used in negative sentences or in questions.
Question: What is the indefinite article?
Answer: The indefinite articles are a and an. A and an are used to talk about a general noun or idea rather than a specific object.
Question: What is the definite article?
Answer: The definite article is the. The is used to talk about a specific noun or thing.
Question: What is a determiner?
Answer: A determiner is a word which goes before a noun, it helps us identify the noun and gives us information about it.