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What is a determiner?

Updated: May 5, 2023

'A modifying word that determines the kind of reference a noun or noun group has'

The next addition to my word class series is determiners. Now, every single word in a sentence plays a role and is part of a word class and determiners seem to be the ones that are 'less obvious' to identify. As we get further into word classes, I think it's important to mention that a word isn't exclusively part of one word class, depending on the sentence it may change what word class it belongs to (I know, confusing). A word can also fall into more than word class as it's doing more than one job, for example, some determiners will also be pronouns.

Determiners come before a noun and identifies (or you could say determines...) whether the noun or phrase is general or specific. They can specify/ identify the following:





For example:

The car

A car

That car

These are all considered as determiners. Now, let's make things even more complicated... Determiners fall into these main categories:


Simply they identify whether a noun is general or specific.

(a, an, the) For example:

A dog

The table

Simple, right?


Specifying a noun

(this, that, these, those) For example:

This dress

Those shoes


Specify to whom something belongs to

(his, hers, theirs, Sophie's)

My work

My mum's house


Refer to a general quantity

(some, any, every, a few)

A few minutes

It rains most days

More specifically numbers are also considered as determiners too.

One hundred flowers

Two days left

All in all, I think it's important to remember that determiners are there to modify and add clarity to a sentence. Word classes can be confusing, but it's not essential to know each one and be able to identify where they are in a sentence. However, it's useful to understand them as it can help with your writing. As an editor, it's a good way to ensure that each sentence is correct and each part is doing its job properly.


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