Determiners and quantifiers


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 a 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.



Hello teacher, I understand how to use the specific determiners:
(Thank you very much for your letter)
And how to use the general determiners.
If you need any help , please contact me on the following numbers.( you said we use the determiner (any) with singular noun)

But, if I say:
If you need any other helps, please contact me .......

Is it (any) and (other) both of them are determiners?
So, if you we can mix two determiners can you give me another example please?

Hi! Sir,

You said that DETERMINERS is to show which THING is being referred to. So, THING = NOUN meaning not adj., adv., etc.?
Is that correct?
And may I know what are the differences of DETERMINERS and MODIFIER in a comprehensive way.
Thanks :)

Hi! Sir.

The types of Determiners :
1. Articles – a, an, the
2. Demonstrative – this that/these those
3. Specifier – such
4. Quantifiers – any, each, every, either, neither
5. Negative – no, not any, not a single
6. Possessives – my, your, his, her, our, their
Are those true, I listed above. Is it?
If so, why quantifiers are also part of determiner. What are the relevance?
And do you have an explanation regarding with BASIC SENTENCE STRUCTURE?
I hope you can help me. :)

Hi dencasi,

Our grammar pages are focused on helping users to learn to use English grammar for practical reasons, and I'd rather not get into exhaustive analyses that are more appropriate for students of linguistics here. For that kind of information, I'd suggest you check the wikipedia (e.g. their page on determiners, which has a list of types of determiners) or do an internet search for "sentence parsing" or something like that.

As for your other questions, yes, determiners always go with noun phrases. The only exception to this that I can think of is when there is ellipsis. We have a few pages on sentence structure starting on our Clause, phrase and sentence page.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

Is education and health is uncountable noun?
Can I say, My health is good. My education is good and talk about specific thing?

Hello sdgnour2014,

Yes, both education and health are uncount nouns. "My health is good" is fine, and "My education is good" (or "I have a good education") are grammatically correct.

Best wishes,

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

Can you tell me please?

Sdg is a man . He is THE husband.Mona is a woman.She is THE wife. Ahmed is a boy. He is THE son.Nawal is a girl. She is the daughter........

and so on,.................etc.

My question: Is the use of article THE is right OR wrong?and Why.

Hello sdgnour2014,

The definite article 'the' is used when both the speaker and the listener know exactly which item or person is being referred to.  In your example, we would use 'the' in this way if we already know that there is a husband, a wife, one son and one daughter.  If, for example, the family had several sons and daughters then we would say 'he is a son' or 'he is one of the sons'.

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team