Determiners Overview

Determiners - Lesson #1

Determiners are words that we put in front of a noun to make it clear what the noun refers to. Many times determiners are pronouns. We covered most of these topics in the lessons about pronouns.

In this lesson, we will briefly go over all the things at are considered determiners. In the following lessons, we will study determiners that were not covered in the pronoun lessons.

We will also cover quantifiers and distributives in this lesson. Quantifiers and distributives are determiners, but sometimes they are considered their own category.

But to be honest, it is not really important. Do not worry about the grammar terms. Worry about understanding how the words are used and what the words mean.

Here are the different categories that are considered determiners.

1. This, That, These, Those

We use these words to show where a noun is relative to the speaker.

These can be used as demonstrative pronouns.
  • This is my car.
  • That is her dog.
  • These are cookies.
  • Are those whales?
They can also be used before nouns as demonstrative determiners.
  • This house is blue.
  • That car is expensive.
  • These cookies are delicious.
  • Those books are old.
2. Difference words – other and another

These words refer to something different, remaining, or additional. We put them before a noun.
  • I don't need this book. I need the other book.
  • I finished my piece of cake. Can I have another one?
  • We can go to another restaurant if you don't like this one.
Note: To avoid repeating the noun, we often use the word "one" when we use "other" and "another".

3. Pre-determiners – what, such

We use pre-determiners to express surprise or other emotion. They are also used to emphasize. It is basically like an exclamation mark (!).
  • What a great day!
  • He is such a nice guy!
  • What a delicious meal!
  • That is such a beautiful painting.
  • What a horrible day!
  • He walked such a long way.
Notice that "What" goes at the beginning and "such" goes after the verb.
  • What a great day!
  • We had such a nice day!
4. Articles – a, an, the

Articles are determiners.
  • Her house has a swimming pool.
  • The chair is green.
  • Do you want a n apple?
5. Pronouns and Possessive Adjectives

Determiners are also pronouns. We covered pronouns in detail in the pronoun section.

6. Numbers

This is a simple one. Numbers are considered determiners because they are adjectives that tell the quantity of the noun.

Use cardinal numbers to tell how many.
  • I have one book.
  • She needs two eggs.
  • We have 100 cows on our farm.
Use ordinal numbers to talk about order.
  • I will go first and you go second.
  • She finished seventh in the race.

Quantifiers are determiners that tell how many but are not actual numbers.

Quantifiers are non-specific numbers. They give a rough estimate of how many. We use these when we do not know the exact number or the exact number is not important.

Here is a list of the most common quantifiers.


Some grammar books and sources consider numbers to be quantifiers, but other books and sources say that numbers are not actual quantifiers. To be honest, it does not matter. Both numbers and quantifiers do the same thing – they tell how much or how many. In a different lesson, we will study numbers and quantifiers together.


Distributives are considered determiners and pronouns. They refer to a group of people or things and to members of a group. They refer more specifically to a group.

Here is a list of the common distributives.

  • Each person has their own unique personality.
  • All the people love it.
  • Neither Jon nor Mark has a car.
We will cover the different kinds of determiners more in the following lessons. If you want to speak English well or if you are learning English for work, travel, or daily life, then you must know about this English grammar point. Make sure to study it until you have a good understanding of it.