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.




Hello aseel aftab,

We would not use 'the' here because if you say 'the animal equal to a lion in size' then you are suggesting that only one animal is equal to a lion in size. We would say 'an animal equal...' because there are a number of animals equal to a lion in size and the tiger is only one of these.

The use of articles for general meaning is a complex one. If you want to see a summary of how they are used then please take a look at my explanation to another user.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Do you see a blue sky or the blue sky? Because we are talking about a particular sky.

Hello aseel aftab,

I'd need to see the complete context and understand what you want to say to give you the best advice on this, but in general we speak about the sky, as there is only one.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir

"You should listen to the radio more". This sentence is correct, but, "Click here for answers more" is not correct. Why is that?. what is the difference?

Hello pumbi,

As Kirk said, 'more' can be an adverb (modifying a verb, clause etc) or a quantifier (modifying a noun). In the sentence 'You should listen to the radio more' it is an adverb and comes at the end of the clause. In the sentence 'Click here for more answers' it is an adjective modifying the noun 'answers' and comes before the noun.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir;

I need more information
I need information more

Click here more answers
Click here answers more

Are these four sentences grammatically correct?. Do they have the same meaning with more?. Is more adjective here?

Hello pumbi,

Sentences 1 and 2 are correct but mean different things. One means the information you have isn't enough ('more' is a quantifier) and two (where 'more' is an adverb) means that of two different things you need, the need for information is greater.

Sentences 3 and 4 are not correct. Perhaps you mean 'Click here for more answers'? 'Click here for answers more' is not correct.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Given the population explosion, unemployment is increased.
Given the population explosion, unemployment could increase.

Are these sentence correct.
What is the difference between both the sentences by changing the verb?

Hello Rox4090,

Both are grammatically correct but the first one is unusual. This is because it has a passive verb, which implies that someone is controlling unemployment. The second, in which 'increase' is an intransitive verb, means that unemployment rates may change as a consequence of changes in population. The second also of course uses the modal verb 'could' to express possibility.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team