General and specific determiners

Determiners are words which come at the beginning of the noun phrase.

They tell us whether the noun phrase is specific or general.

Determiners are either specific or general

Specific determiners:

The specific determiners are:

  • the definite article: the
  • possessives: my, your, his, her, its; our, their, whose
  • demonstratives: this, that, these, those
  • interrogatives: which

We use a specific determiner when we believe the listener/reader knows exactly what we are referring to:

Can you pass me the salt please?
Look at those lovely flowers.
Thank you very much for your letter.
Whose coat is this?

General determiners:

The general determiners are:

  • a; an; any; another; other; what

When we are talking about things in general and the listener/reader does not know exactly what we are referring to, we can use an uncount noun or a plural noun with no determiner:

Milk is very good for you. (= uncount noun)
Health and education are very important. (= 2 uncount nouns)
Girls normally do better in school than boys. (= plural nouns with no determiner)

… or you can use a singular noun with the indefinite article a or an:

A woman was lifted to safety by a helicopter.
A man climbing nearby saw the accident.

We use the general determiner any with a singular noun or an uncount noun when we are talking about all of those people or things:

It’s very easy. Any child can do it. (= All children can do it)
With a full licence you are allowed to drive any car.
I like beef, lamb, pork - any meat.

We use the general determiner another to talk about an additional person or thing:

Would you like another glass of wine?

The plural form of another is other:

I spoke to John, Helen and a few other friends.

Quantifiers

We use quantifiers when we want to give someone information about the number of something: how much or how many.

Exercise

Section: 

Comments

Hi,
what is the difference between " How do you feel about John?" and " How do you feel about John"?
Best regards,
Abdullah

Hello Abdullah,

Different style guides make different recommendations on how to punctuate sentences.  I'd say that most would punctuate a question the first way, i.e. with the question mark inside the quotation marks. There is no difference in meaning between them.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Whose coat is this?
Does this sentence contain two specific determiners namely "whose" and "this"?

Hello Mannkhan,

'Whose' is a determiner in this example but 'this' is a demonstrative pronoun.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir
I have eat and I have eaten
Which one is right

Hello Akash23,

'I have eat' is not a correct form.

'I have eaten' is a possible form. Whether or not it is correct will depend upon the sentence in which it is used and the context, of course.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,

Could you tell me which one is correct?

A. 2 other students
B. The 2 other students
C. Other 2 students
D. The other 2 students
E. Another 2 students
F. 2 another students

Thank you very much
Hai

Hello Hai,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers to tasks from elsewhere. We're a small team here and if we tried to answer questions like this we would end up doing our users' homework and tests for them, which is just not possible with so many users. I can tell you that several of these are grammatically correct but which is needed in a given context will depend upon that context.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter M

Thank you for the reply. I would to make you understand that I didn't ask you for my homework because I am not a student. I know how to use "other and another" but I am a bit confused when I use them with a number.

I read some grammar books and I found that we can use other and another before the number like another 5 people, the other 5 people or another few years.

However, when I was reading some articles online, I came across something like "three other surgical interventions, 2 other students or a few other friends. Therefore, I made a list of possible answers and asked you. I hope you can help.

Best wishes

Hai

Hello Nguyenhai,

I understand. We get a lot of requests to help with exercises from tests and the like and obviously we avoid doing these. Generally, [two other + plural noun] and [another two + plural noun] are interchangeable, while [the two other + plural noun] and [the other two + plural noun] are used interchangeably when talking about known examples.

In answer to your initial questions:

A. 2 other students

This is correct. It means 'two students who were not included in the earlier group'. You might say this when you are talking about a group of students and two new ones arrive, for example.


B. The 2 other students

This is also correct. The meaning here is the same as above but you would use 'the' when the two students have been mentioned before and you are referring back to them.


C. Other 2 students

This is not correct. You would need to say either 'another' or 'the other', depending on whether you have mentioned them before.


D. The other 2 students

This is correct.


E. Another 2 students

This is correct.


F. 2 another students

This is not correct. We can use 'another' before a number, not after.

 

I hope that clarifies it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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