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.



Hi Sir.
Could u tell me the difference between determiner and quantifier?
What are pre-, central, and post determiners?

Thank you,

Hello Risa warysha,

A quantifier is a type of determiner. The relevant wikipedia page (here) contains a list of the most common kinds of determiners.


Pre-, post- and central describe the positions of different determiners.

Pre-determiners come first, central determiners come next and postdeterminers come last.

Example: all the thirty women 

Here, 'all' is a pre-determiner, 'the' is a central determiner and 'thirty' is a postdeterminer.



There is some debate as to whether this terminology is helpful. Postdeterminers often have adjectival characteristics, for example, which other determiners do not, and are not only identified by their position.



The LearnEnglish Team


which of the following sentence is correct?

1) He worked as an insurance agent before he went to the US.
2) He had worked as an insurance agent before he went to the US.

Hello Mohd Zaffar,

Both forms are possible here. Without a wider context there is nothing to show which would be preferable.

Generally, we use past simple for sequences of actions (first... later...). We use past perfect when an earlier action has some relevance to or influence on a later action.

You can read more about the past perfect on these pages:


Please note that we are on a page on the topic of articles and determiners, not the past perfect. We ask users to post questions on relevant pages as it helps to keep the comments sections useful for other users who may have similar questions.



The LearnEnglish Team

hello sir
which of the following sentence is correct?

1) We have never had any dispute with them.
2) We never had any dispute with them.

Hello Mohd Zaffar,

Both sentences are grammatically correct. Which one you need will depend upon the context and what you are trying to say.

The first sentence describes an ongoing situation. It tells us that you still know 'them' and up to the present time have not had any disputes.

The second sentence describes finished time. It tells us that when you knew 'them' there were no disputes, but we understand that you no longer know them for some reason, so there cannot now be any disputes. You might use this sentence if the situation has changed:

They used to live in our time and we never had any disputes with them. They moved away last year.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir
Which of the following sentence is correct?
1) The man asked his son to go Agra by bike.
2) The man asked his son go Agra by bike

1) I suggest you (put) put on sun block immediately before you get a sun burn.
why not sentence is like:--
1) I suggest you (put) to put on sunblock immediately before you get a sun burn.

similarly other sentences like

->The environmentalist leader felt it was extremely important that the people of the city be allowed to voice their concerns over the new hotel being built on the bay.

Why ‘to be allowed’ is not used

Sir I read subjunctive topic in English grammar.

i understood the use of bare infinitive verbs but have problem in using 'to' in such types of sentences.
Sometimes use of 'to' is corrected and sometimes not

please explain with examples in this regard

Thanking You

Hello Mohd Zaffar,

That's a lot of questions! I'll answer a few and then if you have any others, please ask us again, though please limit yourself to one or two per comment.

The first sentence is correct, though the preposition 'to' is needed before 'Agra'.

As for your questions about verbs like 'suggest' and 'feel' and the patterns that follow them, this really depends on the specific verb being used. In other words, each verb is followed by different patterns. You can find information about these patterns in a good dictionary -- for example, see this page on the verb 'suggest'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team