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! Please help me know whether 'however' and 'otherwise' are determiners ?!

Hell dhunsik,

You can find this out by looking these words up in the dictionary. Note there's a handy search box on the lower right side of this page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team


Please help me with this doubt.

When using industry specific terminologies like Employee ID number, or Member ID number in a conversation, is it a must to say Employee's ID number, or Member's ID number? Though I understand the usage of 's, I feel it is not required as Member ID or Employee ID is a collective terminology used in documents, systems, Id cards, etc. I also see that in many documents, companies use them without the 's. Particularly when someone is asking "what is the Member Id # of the patient?"or "what is the Employee ID of your team member?" or "Subscriber ID # please", is it necessary to use 's (Member's ID # is, Employee's ID # is, or Subscriber ID # is". Will it anyway be wrong to reply with the 's. Please clarify.

Thank you,
Praveen Muthiah

Hi Praveen,

We don't use the 's in these words, so the correct form is 'Member ID number' and 'Employee ID number'.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,

Thank you so much for the clarification. It will be great if you could also advise on why an 's with these terms would be incorrect. I truly appreciate your efforts to help learners across the globe.

Praveen Muthiah

Hello Praveen,

The words you ask about are compound nouns, which are often a combination of two nouns that act as one word – others, for example, are 'mineral water', 'tea leaves', 'sunglasses'. The first word acts kind of like an adjective, and no 's is used. This is just the way such nouns are formed. There is no easy way to determine whether you can combine two different nouns or not; you must use a dictionary to determine this sort of thing.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Kirk. Yours is the best team among all the forums available for English learning.

Thank you very much.
Could you help me again please?

Not only married individuals in this age have the scarcity of finance, but also increased numbers of responsibilities.

Is the article before scarcity is correct?
And can I use instead of the article plural form(scarcities).
Could you outline any mistakes please.

Thank you beforehand.

Hello Kamran,

This phrasing sounds unusual to me, but probably no article would be used here, unless this scarcity has already been referred to before this sentence. I think the singular form is better than the plural form here.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

HELLO SIR I am from India and I want to improve my communication skill plz help me because I am new here.