IELTS Basic Grammar - Determiners

Determiners, or noun signals, are special adjectives used before nouns. There are different kinds of determiners.

The Articles
The words a, an and the are called the articles.

The words a and an are indefinite articles. They are used with singular nouns. Use a before nouns that begin with a consonant. Use an before nouns that begin with a vowel.

" John is reading a book."
" Would you like a peach?"
" Is that a dog or a fox?"
" You’ll need a ruler and a pencil."

Some vowels have a consonant sound as well as vowel sound. Use the article a with nouns that begin with these vowels:
" Is there a university in your town?"
" Does every child in the school wear a uniform?"
"We are taking a European vacation this summer."

Some words begin with a silent h. Use an with nouns that begin with a silent h:
" We’ve been waiting here for an hour."
" Meeting the president was an honor for all of us. "

The word the is called the definite article. Use the before a noun when you are talking to someone who already knows which person or thing you mean.

" Dad is sitting in the garden."
" Who made the mess on the carpet?"
" Turn the television off now."
" I’ll wait for you in the car. "

Using Nouns without Articles
When you are talking about something in general, not a particular thing, use a noun without an article. You can also use plural nouns without an article.

" Frogs are my favorite animals."
" Children like playing games."
" Babies cry a lot. "

Nouns that don't show quantity are normally used without a or an. The article the, however, may be used with nouns that don't show quantity.

" I like sunshine."
" I sometimes have fruit for breakfast."
" You’ve got dirt on your face."
" A clock measures time. "

Demonstrative Determiners
The words this, that, these and those are also special pronouns called determiners. They are used to point out which thing or person you mean. They are called demonstrative determiners.

" Who lives in this house?"
" This car belongs to my mom."
" Does this key fit the lock?"
" These trousers are too short."
" I don’t like these comics."
" These biscuits don’t taste very good."

Use that and those to talk about things that are farther away from you.

" This chair is mine and that chair is yours."
" That animal is making a funny noise. "

Quantifying Determiners
Words such as many, much and several tell about quantity without giving an exact number. They are called quantifying determiners.

Some quantifying determiners are used only with plural nouns. They are few, a few, fewer, many, several and both.

" Few people have been to the moon."
" We went to Europe many years ago."
" A few children are absent today."
" Several friends went with me. "

Some quantifying determiners can be used with plural nouns and nouns that show no exact number. They are all, half, some, enough, a lot of, lots of, more, most, other and plenty of.

" All children seem to like chocolate."
" We’ve eaten all the food in the refrigerator."
" Half the balloons have burst already."
" Jenny spends half her time watching television."
" Some girls like to play football."
" Can I have some water? "

Some determiners can be used only with nouns of no exact number. They are little (meaning not much), a little (meaning some), much and less.

" We have little time to play."
" There’s a little rice left. "

Some quantifying determiners can only be used with singular nouns. They are another, every and each.

" I need another pencil."
" He likes every child in the class. "

The quantifying determiners either and neither refer to two people or things.
" I don’t like either drink."
" Neither sister has long hair. "

Some quantifying determiners are used with singular, plural, or nouns of no exact quantity. They are any, no, no other and the other.

" Any dog will bite if it’s afraid."
" Are there any good books in the library?"
" There wasn’t any space in the cupboard."

Interrogative Determiners
The words what, which and whose are used before nouns to ask questions. Interrogative determiners appear just before nouns.

" What time is it?"
" Which boy is your brother? "

Possessive Determiners
The words my, your, his, her, its, our and their are used before nouns to show ownership. They are called possessive determiners.

" I gave my sandwich to John."
" Is this your desk?"
" Alan crashed his bike into a wall."
" Mrs. Park keeps her house very clean."
" The dog was licking its paws. "

The possessive determiner your can be used when you are talking to one person or more than one person:

" I’m very angry with you, John."
" Your behavior has been very bad today."
" Jake and Josh, your dinner is ready. "

Numbers are determiners, too. Numbers are often used before nouns to tell you exactly how many people or things there are.

" Our family has two dogs."
" There are twelve months in the year. "

Using Determiners Together
You can use quantifying determiners with each other and with numbers.

" Some people like winter but many more people prefer summer."
" There’s a little less space in this cupboard than in that one."
" There are five fewer children in my class than in your class."

Use of between a quantifying determiner and another kind of determiner.

" I don’t like any of these drinks."
" Some of my friends don’t like country music."
" Each of the boys answered the question correctly. "

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