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.


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





Sentence: A motorcyclist was injured on Sunday after he drove into a plastic kite string in New Jersey, injuring his fingers and ears.

Phrase: injuring his fingers and ears.

What is this type of phrase called?
How can we write such type of phrases?

Please teach us .


Hi Rox4090,

This is an example of a participle phrase (sometimes also called a participle clause). We have a page devoted to this topic with explanations and examples of how these forms are used and you can find that page here.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi again,

Could you please clarify what function is performing by that clause.

As the position of the clause is at the end of the sentence, I wonder what it emphasises.

Is it emphasises the subordinate clause or the principal one?

Are these type clauses modify principal clauses or the subordinate ones?

Why the writer had not place the clause in the beginning ?

I can see such clauses mentioned in the start of the sentences on the learn English website.

I an confused as I could not make sense of the clause in my mind .

If the sentence could be explained in parts, it would be wonderful.

By breaking the sentence into parts, it can be clearly understood which clause is performing what function.

Regards ,

Hello again Rox4090,

I assume you're referring the participle clause in the sentence you provided earlier:

A motorcyclist was injured on Sunday after he drove into a plastic kite string in New Jersey, injuring his fingers and ears.

Did you take a look at the page I linked to in my earlier answer? The function of the participle clause here is described on that page:

Participle clauses give information about condition, reason, result or time.

In your sentence 'injuring his fingers and ears' describes the result of the action 'he drove into...'. It means in effect 'he drove into... which injured his fingers and ear'.

The reason this clause comes at the end is that it describes a result. Putting the result before the cause would be rather odd logically and would make the sentence difficult to follow. When the clause describes purpose it generally comes at the beginning of the sentence, though there is more flexibility than with a result clause.

The participle clause here is a subordinate clause. In fact, whether it is better to describe these forms as clauses or phrases is a moot point and arguments can be made either way. You can read a little about this on the relevant wikipedia page (here).


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the swift reply.

Now, I got it that clause describing result comes at the end of the sentence.

How about the place of the clauses describing condition, reason and time?

If you could enlighten me on this, It would be appreciable.


Hi Rox4090,

The positioning of these clauses varies depending on the context and intention of the speaker. You can emphasise different actions in different ways and create different stylistic patterns by varying the order of the clauses. There may also be certain conventions/common patterns of use which hold most of the time for particular examples.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

How can we emphasise actions and also that in different ways?

Could you please elaborate and explain it with some links and examples


Sometimes in the punctuation case of a sentence, “ the” word is used. But in some case it is not used.

For example- to the school, to the market. On the pretext. To the government.

Why “the” is used here??

Without ” the”-
Is not in a position. ( “a” instead of the)
The girl’s mother works at a doctor’s clinics.( “a” instead of the)
Offender was thrashed for several hours by a policeman. ( a instead of the)
The girl gave birth to a girl ( a instead of the)
The girl belongs to a village in Tehri district. ( not “ the “ is used)
A student of class 10 ( the is not used here)

Please explain why “the” is replaced by “a”.
Also, please explain why “ the” is not used in some punctuation cases like in the last two sentences mentioned above.

Please clear our doubts on this topic thoroughly.

Best regards,

Hi Rox4090,

We use articles to show if the thing which we are talking about is known (identified) or not known (unidentified) to the speaker and listener. For example:

Let's go to a restaurant. [it could be any restaurant, no particular restaurant is intended]

Let's go to the restaurant. [the speaker is thinking of a particular restaurant and thinks that the listener also knows which restaurant is meant]


This is the key distinction between 'a' and 'the' and it is really a question of the context and of what knowledge the speaker and listener share, rather than being a purely grammatical question.


You have a lot of examples in your question and we can't really provide detailed explanations of multiple examples. We're happy, of course to help our users as much as we can but we are a small team here at LearnEnglish and deal with many questions every day. However, we have several pages on this topic:

the indefinite article 'a'

the definite article 'the'

three golden rules

other rules


Please take a look at these pages and compare your sentences with the examples there. I think you will be able to find the explanations yourself that way and if you work it out in this way you will remember it far better than if we simply tell you. You can post your own explanations in a comment on one of those pages and we'll be happy to tell you if your explanations are correct.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you for the reply.

Please tell me why no article is used in this sentence.

A student of class 10 is on a winning streak.

Why “ the” is not used after the word “ of” in the above sentence.
Best regards,