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