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What is a Determiner? Definitions, Examples, and Comprehensive List

A determiner is a part of speech (POS), and parts of speech are incredibly important in writing. Each part of speech fulfills a purpose in a sentence, and not all parts of speech are created equal. Some parts of speech make our writing stronger while others make it weaker. So we must be careful using them.

In this blog post, we will discuss the definition of a determiner, provide examples, and list them so that you can start using them in your own writing.

So, what exactly is an interjection? Let's find out!

Determiner Definition

A determiner is a word that modifies a noun or pronoun, making it more specific. Determiners include articles (a, an, the), demonstrations (this, that, these, those), possessive pronouns (my, your, his, her, its, our, their), and quantifiers (somebody/someone/something/somewhere).

Here are some examples of determiners in action:

  • Can you pass me the salt?
    • The – points to a specific object
  • Somebody left their jacket in the library.
    • Their – shows possession
  • We’re going on vacation
    • Next week. (next – refers to a specific time)

Most of the time, determiners go in front of a noun. For example:

  • We need more sugar for the cake.
  • All of the students are here.
  • Most people like ice cream.

Sometimes, you’ll see a demonstrative determiner by itself. For example:

  • This is delicious!
  • That looks fun!

Why Are Determiner Important to Understand?

Determiners matter because writing needs specificity to make sense to people. If words aren't referred to specifically, it is impossible to know what we are talking about and to make sense of the text. Determiners give meaning to nouns, pronouns, and verbs, which are the most important POS.

What Are Articles?

Articles are a type of determiner that signal whether a noun is specific or unspecific. There are three articles in English:

  • A/an
  • The
  • Zero article (no article)

We use the zero article when we’re talking about something in general, without singling out a particular example. For example: "Desserts are my favorite part of the meal." In this sentence, the speaker isn’t referring to any specific dessert – just desserts in general.

‘‘A/An’’ Determiner

We use a/an before singular countable nouns that are indefinite—that is, they don’t refer to a specific thing or group of things. For example: 

  • I’d like a piece of cake, please.
  • We saw an elephant on our safari.

‘‘The’’ Determiner

We use the before singular and plural countable nouns that are definite – that is, they refer to a specific thing or group of things. For example:

  • The piece of cake was delicious.
  • We saw the elephants at the zoo.

You can also use the before uncountable and plural nouns, both definite and indefinite. For example: 

  • I love the snow. (uncountable)
  • Do you have the time? (uncountable)
  • We’re almost out of the nice candles. (plural)

What Are Demonstratives?

Demonstratives — this, that, these, those — are determiners that demonstrate which thing or group of things we’re talking about. For example:

  • This book is very interesting.
  • I don’t like that color.
  • These shoes are too small for me.
  • Do you want those cookies?

We use this/these to talk about something nearby, and that/those to talk about something farther away. For example:

  • This apple looks delicious! (nearby)
  • Would you please pass me that pen? (far away)

We can also use demonstratives to talk about something that we’re pointing at. For example:

  • This is my cat, Mittens.
  • Are these your keys?

What Are Possessives?

Possessives — my, your, his, her, its, our, their — are determiners that show who something belongs to. For example:

  • This is my pencil.
  • Is that your jacket?
  • Their car is very nice.
  • The cat licked its paw.

What Are Quantifiers? 

Quantifiers are words that indicate the quantity of something. They can be used to describe how much or how many of something there is. For example:

  • I have a lot of friends.
  • He has many problems.

What Are Numbers?

Numbers are words that indicate the quantity of something. They can be used to describe how much or how many of something there is. There are two types of numbers:

  • cardinals
  • ordinals

What Are Cardinals?

Cardinal numbers are used to describe the quantity of something. For example, "one" and "two" are cardinal numbers. Cardinal numbers can also be used to describe the exact quantity of something. For example:

  • I ate one pizza
  • I have three best friends.
  • I would like to have two garages.

What Are Ordinals?

Ordinal numbers are used to describe the order of something. For example, "first" and "second" are ordinal numbers. Ordinal numbers can also be used to describe the exact order of something. For example, "I am the third person in line." In this sentence, the word "third" is an ordinal number.

  • He made his first million dollars last year.
  • He just drank his third beer.
  • He finished second

Determiners List (100+)

Here are over 100 determiners you can use in your next writing project:

  • a
  • a few
  • a little
  • all
  • an
  • another
  • any
  • anybody
  • anyone
  • anything
  • anywhere
  • both
  • certain (also adjective)
  • each
  • either
  • enough
  • every
  • everybody
  • everyone
  • everything
  • everywhere
  • few
  • fewer
  • fewest
  • last (also adjective)
  • least
  • less (also adverb and preposition)
  • little (also adjective)
  • many
  • many a
  • more (also adverb)
  • most (also adverb)
  • much
  • neither
  • next (also adjective)
  • no (also interjection)
  • no one
  • nobody
  • none
  • nothing
  • nowhere
  • once
  • one (also noun and pronoun)
  • said (also verb)
  • several (also adjective)
  • some
  • somebody
  • something
  • somewhere
  • sufficient (also adjective)
  • that
  • the
  • these
  • this
  • those
  • three (also noun)
  • thrice
  • twice
  • two (also noun)
  • us (also pronoun)
  • various
  • we (also pronoun)
  • what (also pronoun and adjective)
  • whatever
  • which (also pronoun)
  • whichever
  • you (also pronoun)
  • zero (also noun)