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 Everyone,

I seek help in validating the phrase 'the many different contexts' in the following sentence.

What we need is a broader understanding of what counts as correct and appropriate to the many different contexts in which we use language.

The sentence has been used on some dictionary website, which I assume should be valid.

However, I need to learn the grammatical relevance of the modifying phrase 'the many' in the given sentence. In my opinion, the determiners 'the' and 'many' are not used together.

Does 'many' imply 'various' in this sentence?


Hello Faisal,

It is perfectly possible to use 'the' with 'many' and the definite article here has its normal meaning. 'Many' also has its regular meaning of 'a large number'.

'in many different contexts' = non-specified contexts

'the many different contexts' = specific contexts (here, those in which we use language)

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

There is need to be described the diffrent uses of 'such ' as an adverb or a determiner. 'Such a leader....' and 'such an amount......'
are two phrases respectively having 'such' as an adverb and an adjective. What is the difference of meaning of 'such' in both two phrases?

Hello vkrmsingh,

In both of those sentences 'such' is functioning as an adjective, not an adverb. In each sentence it describes a noun. 'Such' can have several meanings but without knowing the full context it is impossible to say which meaning is relevant for each example. If you type 'such' into the dictionary search window on this page you will see the range of possible meanings and that may help you identify which is relevant in each context.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

On review, looking at the determiners, I find therein Interrogative determiners. Note its written "Interrogatives: "Which denote plural, However you mentioned just one which is "which". So where does "where'" fall in the determiners? Is it not an interrogative determiner. Do you require to review the plural into singular "determiner"?As for 'what' which is placed under general determiners.

Hello Githuga,

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean here, and I can't tell to which part of our explanation you are referring. If you have a query about the grammar information on this page please quote exactly the sentence about which you wish to ask, and state exactly what your query is. We'll be happy to try to explain.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir, i can use child, girls, education,health in the form of uncount noun.

Hello sir,
sorry,i make small mistake in above question.
my question is '' i can use child ,girls, education, health in the form of both count & uncount noun''.

Hello yogesh mani tripathi,

As Kirk said, you can find this information by using our Cambridge Dictionaries Online tool. Just type each word into the window and click 'Look it up!' to get information on each word, including whether it is countable or uncountable.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello yogesh,

You can find the answers in the dictionary (see the search box on the lower right). [U] means 'uncount' and [C] means 'count'. Note that some nouns can be used in both ways.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team