Determiners Determiners are words that introduce a noun and provide some information about it (but do NOT describe it ). Examples: the ball , his son , five cats , more cars .
How do we identify a determiner ? If a word can appear here _______ , it is a determiner: 1. ________ any common noun Examples: The thing, his things, five things, some things, many things, a thing, several things, few things, each thing, those things, their things, etc. Note: some determiners, like “ much ”, may only introduce noncount nouns .
There are four types of determiners : Articles Possessives Demonstratives Quantifiers
Articles There are only three articles in English: The , a , an
“ the ” is called the Definite Article : It normally introduces a noun that is familiar to the listener. Example: The earth is round. “ the ” may introduce either a singular or a plural noun. “ a ” or “ an ” are called the Indefinite Article : “ a ” or “ an ” normally introduce a noun that is not yet familiar to the listener. Example: I saw a new movie. “ a ” or “ an ” may only introduce a singular noun.
What is the difference between “ a ” and “ an ”? “ a ” precedes words that start with a consonant sound . Examples: a table, a chair, and also… a eulogy “ an ” precedes words that start with a vowel sound . Examples: an apple, an umbrella, and also… an hour
Demonstratives Demonstratives are words that are used to point at someone or something (whether it’s concrete or abstract). Examples: that book; this time; these ideas; those chairs There are only four demonstratives in English:
Singular Demonstratives : This That Plural Demonstratives : These Those
“ that” in (4) is NOT a determiner, because it is not used to point at apples!
Possessives Possessives are words that usually indicate possession or belonging of a noun. Examples: his birthday, Sam’s book, her idea, New York’s subway There are two kinds of possessives : 1. possessive determiner pronouns 2. possessive determiner proper nouns
In order to be called a DETERMINER , a possessive pronoun MUST be followed by a noun-phrase :
1. His essay was the best.
“ His ” is a determiner in sentence (1).
2. His was the best essay.
“His” is NOT a determiner in sentence (2).
How do we know ?
Because determiners need to precede noun-phrases ! In sentence (2) no noun-phrase follows the word “his”.
Another way to test if a possessive pronoun is a determiner or not:
Replace “his” with “her”, and see if the sentence is grammatical :
1. His essay was the best.
Her essay was the best.
2. His was the best exam.
*Her was the best exam.
Since in (2) the Test Sentence gets a *, “his” in (2) is NOT a determiner .
Possessive Proper Nouns A proper noun with apostrophe ‘s is a “ possessive proper noun ” Examples: Mary’s car, CUNY’s students, Mr. Smith’s wife (Note: These are Determiners , and NOT proper nouns ).
Now we can generalize our three tests: Any determiner ______________ If a word can appear immediately following a determiner and the result is a grammatical phrase, then that word is a noun .
Identify the determiners and say what kind of determiner it is: 1. Many New Yorkers spend the winter in Florida. 2. His grandmother came to the U.S. on a boat. 3. Jerry is an accomplished pianist who plays in the best concert halls 4. My son has outgrown those shoes. 5. We bought these gifts in that store. 6. Those people should be ashamed of themselves. 7. Last night, my son and his girlfriend picked up their theatre tickets
1. Delta’s pilots received a well-deserved salary raise. 2. Janet’s biggest fear is that her car would break down on the highway 3. A basic principle of investing is that you don’t put all your money in one basket. 4. Neither team was able to score a goal at the game. 5. The hurricane broke seven windows in the basement 6. Do you have any idea how to solve this problem? 7. There are several reasons for my absence yesterday.