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 Peter M

Thank you for the reply. I would to make you understand that I didn't ask you for my homework because I am not a student. I know how to use "other and another" but I am a bit confused when I use them with a number.

I read some grammar books and I found that we can use other and another before the number like another 5 people, the other 5 people or another few years.

However, when I was reading some articles online, I came across something like "three other surgical interventions, 2 other students or a few other friends. Therefore, I made a list of possible answers and asked you. I hope you can help.

Best wishes


Hello Nguyenhai,

I understand. We get a lot of requests to help with exercises from tests and the like and obviously we avoid doing these. Generally, [two other + plural noun] and [another two + plural noun] are interchangeable, while [the two other + plural noun] and [the other two + plural noun] are used interchangeably when talking about known examples.

In answer to your initial questions:

A. 2 other students

This is correct. It means 'two students who were not included in the earlier group'. You might say this when you are talking about a group of students and two new ones arrive, for example.

B. The 2 other students

This is also correct. The meaning here is the same as above but you would use 'the' when the two students have been mentioned before and you are referring back to them.

C. Other 2 students

This is not correct. You would need to say either 'another' or 'the other', depending on whether you have mentioned them before.

D. The other 2 students

This is correct.

E. Another 2 students

This is correct.

F. 2 another students

This is not correct. We can use 'another' before a number, not after.


I hope that clarifies it for you.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

about "other, others, the other, the others", could you clarify more? I'm still not clear after reading examples in dictionaries.

1. other (pronoun) = other (adjective) + singular noun ( correct ?)
2. others (pronoun) = other (adjective) + plural noun ( correct ?)
3. the other or the others = the remaining part of a group (2-member-group, or more-than-3-member-group) ( correct ?)

4. Some designs are better than others ( but it seems "others" here means the remaining part? what's the difference in meaning if use "the others"?)

5. This option is preferable to any other (but it seems "other" refer to the remaining part ?)

6. Mr Harris and 3 other teachers were there. (what is the difference without "other" here ?)

Thank you very much!


''I have realized an adult’s primary responsibilities''

Why does ''an'' have to be included here even if we have a plural noun?

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

The noun here is singular: adult. It is a possessive form followed by a plural noun.

Here are some similar examples:

I like my son's friends. ['son' is singular; 'friends' is plural]


I have a problem with my car's electrics. ['car' is singular; 'electrics' is plural]


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Is it correct to use 'a last few months/days of work/college, then back to...'
Is it the same as 'a few more days of...

Hello Petals,

In general, I'd say that 'a last few days' and 'a few more days' don't mean exactly the same thing, but it'd be helpful to know the full sentence and context to say that for sure.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

The sentence “a last few days of work in London, then home to Delhi.” Does “a last few days “ emphasise that just a few days are left ?

Hello Petals,

Yes, that's correct. Depending on the context, it could mean that the speaker wants to go home and is impatiently counting the days remaining, or it could mean that the speaker does not wish to leave and is saying sadly how little time they have left before they have to leave. Either way, it emphasises how few days are left, as you say.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team