‘Determiner’ is a word used before a norm to indicate which things or people we are talking about. The words ‘a’, ‘the’, ‘my’, ‘this’, ‘some’, ‘many’, etc. are called determiners:
- He is a good boy.
- The boy you met is my friend.
- This novel is very interesting.
- I have some information about the accident.
- There were many people at the station.
Pre-determiners are the words which occur before a determiner to limit the meaning of a noun.
The article system in English consists of the definite article ‘the’ and the indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’ We can think of nouns in a specific or general way. When we refer to particular people or things or something that has already been mentioned or can be understood, we use the definite article ‘the’. When we refer to singular nouns for the first time, or refer to things in a general way, we use the indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’.
The Definite Article -‘The’:
We can use the definite article before any common noun:
- He threw the ball into the river.
- The boys were not in the class.
We use the definite article to refer to specific persons or things:
- I want to meet the principal in the school.
- The tourists crossed the river in a boat.
The definite article is used to refer to the things that are only one in the world:
- The moon and stars were shining in the sky.
- The sun sets in the west.
- The earth revolves round the sun.
We use the definite article with the words such as school, university, prison, when we are referring to a particular building:
- They will visit the school on Monday.
- I met him in the university.
The definite article may be used with the countable nouns that are used in the singular to refer to things more general:
- If you break the law, you will be punished.
- He played the violin for half an hour.
The definite article is used to refer to the parts of the body:
- Smoking is harmful for the lungs.
- He caught him by the neck.
- There was an injury in the right eye.
The definite article is used with time expressions:
- I met her in the evening.
- She came here in the morning.
We use the definite article before something that has already been mentioned.
- I met a man at the station.
- The man belonged to Tamil Nadu.
The definite article is used before a noun that is followed by a relative clause or a prepositional phrase:
- The man I met at the station belonged to Haryana.
- He put the sweater on the table.
The definite article is used to refer to familiar things we use regularly:
- She looked at the ceiling.
- Suddenly the lights went out.
The definite article is used before dates or periods of time:
- We met on the 15th of October.
- It is a popular music of the 1940s.
The definite article is generally used before a noun which is followed by ‘of ’:
- This led to the destruction of the whole village.
- The burning of houses rendered people homeless.
The definite article is used before the names of seas, rivers, deserts, mountains,
- The ship crossed the Pacific Ocean.
- Delhi stands on the banks of the Yamuna.
- The Sahara is a famous desert.
- They came across the Himalayas.
The definite article is used before the names of large public buildings:
- They visited the Taj Mahal.
- They went to the Town Hall.
The definite article is used before the superlative adjectives:
- He is the- best boy in the class.
- She is the most beautiful girl in the school.
The definite article is used before adjectives such as rich, poor, deaf, dumb, blind, to use them as nouns:
- The rich and the poor went to the fair.
- We should help the blind.
We use the definite article before the nationals of a country or continent:
- The Indians are very religious.
- Some of the Europeans live here.
We use the definite article before the names of trains and ships:
- The Rajdhani Express is a very fast train.
- The Queen Elizabeth is a famous ship.
The Indefinite Articles- ‘a’, ’an’:
The indefinite articles (‘a’, ‘an’) are used when we talk about people in a general or indefinite way.
The article ‘a’ is used before the words which begin with consonant sounds and ‘an’ is used before the words beginning with vowel sounds. However, some words start with a vowel letter but begin with a consonant sound. So we use the article ‘a’ before these words:
- He is a European.
- This is a unique idea.
- Theirs is a one-parent family.
- He is teaching at a university.
We use an before words which begin with a vowel sound:
- The girl bought an orange.
- He is an Indian.
- He had an umbrella in his hand.
Some words begin with a silent So we use an before them:
- He is an honest man.
- He is an heir to the throne.
- I met him an hour ago.
We use ‘a’ or ‘an’ before singular countable nouns:
- Kolkata is a big city.
- The dog is an animal.
We use ‘a’ or ‘an’ before the names of occupations and professions:
- His father is an engineer.
- He is a pilot.
When we use ‘a’ before ‘little’ and few’, there is a change in the meaning of these words. ‘A Jew’ is used with plural countable nouns, and ‘a little’ with uncountable nouns. ‘Few’ means not many, while ‘a few’ means a small number. ‘Little’ means not much, while ‘a little’ means some:
- Few people visit this temple now.
- I know a few students of this school.
- There is little water in the bucket.
- There is a little milk in the bottle.
We use ‘a’, ‘an’ before an adjective in a noun phrase:
- She is a good girl.
- She told me an interesting story.
We use ‘an’ with abbreviations beginning with the following letters: A, F, H, I, L, M, N, O, R, S, X (They shoud have vowel sounds).
- His father is an M.P.
- He is an N.R.I.
- She got an X-Ray done.
We use the indefinite article before certain nouns considered as a single unit:
- She bought a knife and fork.
- The old lady had a cup and saucer in her hand.
Demonstratives: This, These, That, Those
The demonstrative determiners are used to talk about persons or things that have already been mentioned.
This and These refer to the things that are near and can be seen. ‘That’ and ‘Those’ are used to refer to the things that are at a distance but can be seen.
- We lived in this house for four years.
- She bought these books.
- Those boys are very mischievous.
- I like this school.
- I met her this week.
‘This’ and ‘that’ are used for singular nouns and ‘these’ and ‘those’ for plural nouns.
- Can you lift that box?
- Would you like to buy those books?
- These boys have done their work.
- I have already met that man.
Possessives: My, our, your, his, her, its, their.
The possessives are used to show possession.
- He is my uncle.
- Our neighbour is a rich man.
- Your daughter is beautiful.
- What is her age?
- What is his name?
- Do you know its value?
- Their house is very big.
Ordinals: first, second, next, last, etc.
The ordinals show what position something has in a series:
- He is the first boy who has joined this school.
- I shall meet him the next week.
- He is the last man to help you.
Cardinals: one, two, three, hundred, etc.
Cardinals are ordinary numbers like one, two, three, etc. They show how many of something there are:
- There were only ten boys in the class.
- She lived for eighty years.
- He has two daughters.
- I met three young men at the station.
- He balanced himself on one foot.
Quantifiers: much, some, several, a lot of, both, all, etc.
The quantifiers refer to the quantity of things or amount of something.
- There were some people at the airport.
- Plenty of people would like to have your job.
- They had enough guests already.
- All children enjoyed the show.
- There was little water in the jug.
- It has not made any difference to me.
- He drank a lot of water.
Distributives: each, every, either, neither.
Distributive determiners refer to each single member of a group.
Each is used when we talk about the members of a group individually and every when we make a general statement. Both are followed by a singular countable noun:
- He met each guest.
- The minister visited every flood-affected area.
- I agree with every word he says.
- Each request will be considered.
Either is used to talk about two things, but usually indicates that only one of the two is involved.
- Either of the two girls should come here.
- Neither is the negative of
- Neither member came to attend the meeting.
- Either can also mean
- People stood in either side (both sides) of the road.
Neither is followed by a singular noun.
- Neither boy said anything.
- Neither answer is correct.
Interrogatives: what, which, whose, etc.
The interrogative determiners are used for asking questions:
- What subjects are you studying?
- Which color do you like the most?
- Whose house is this?