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 just want to know the uses of different tenses.the easy way to understand tenses.i am quite confused thank you

Hello Zette,

My first suggestion would be to read the Verbs part of this English Grammar section. Here in Determiners and quantifiers you won't find anything directly related to them. I'd suggest reading just a few pages at a time, as there is a lot to learn there.

Good luck!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Sir,

May I know is the answers provided for the test level questions?

Hi alvin_loh,

To see the answers to any of the exercises on the site just click 'Finish' after you have answered at least one question, and then choose 'Show answers'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I have a question for you.
In a textbook junior high students are using in Japan, there is a funny skit about how to use fans for a long time:
"Open the fan halfway, you can use it ten years. After ten years, open the other half and use it gently. You can use it for another ten years."
And then, in the exercise book, they have to make similar sentences.
In the teacher's book, one of the correct answers is: "You can use it for another one year"
And it seems wrong to me.
Over one year, ok. Another two years, another three years...
But for one year I would simply say "for another year" omitting the "one" as it doesn't sound right. Am I wrong?
How to use that properly?

Thank you!

Hello Chris,

Yes, you are right - that is not a standard sentence and the ones you propose are correct. I suspect it's simply an unintended error.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much .

Hello ,
My question is a bit out of this topic. But i hope i can get answer.
When i look for some words in Cambridge dictionary i face some things i can not understand
. For example word is cholesterol, and its definition is " a substance containing a lot of fat that is found in the body tissue and blood of all animals, thought to be part of the cause of heart disease if there is too much of it:" I understand it. There is there [U] what does it mean ? (
We can also see [T], [I]
( )and so forth . Where can i get wide information about them about them ?

Hello seaara,

There's an explanation of these codes on the Labels & Codes page. I think that should clarify everything for you, but if not, please ask us again.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks so much, Peter!
I also noticed “What colour is this/that?” is hardly ever used, instead “What colour is it?” is idiomatic. Do I get this right?
The first chapters of all English textbooks are about introduction. Despite that after many years I’m still quite confused about making a proper introduction in English. As far as I can see from books and videos the question “What’s your name?” is not very common. More often people just greet each other and introduce themselves like ‘Hello! (Hi) I’m…” Besides while reading one of the fora I came across the post which surprised me a lot. A girl, native English speaker, wrote she could not imagine asking a stranger “What’s your name?” In her opinion it’d be rude and a sign of bad manners. Is it true? Is “What is your name?” mostly heard at the reception and should be answered “It’s…”?