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.



Could you help me please with the following sentence.
Art is liable to be misconceived, because of increased complexity of genres and ideas in this medium.
Should I use an article before "increased"?
Could you correct any mistakes please.

Thank you beforehand.

Hello Kamran Ibragimov,

You need to use the definite article ('the') before 'increased'. The rest of the sentence is fine.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

can you you help with this sentense? Is it correct? Mary is a resident of the village Borsh of the commune Borsh.

Hello eri,

That looks good to me. You could also use 'in' for 'in the commune of Borsh', but 'of' is also fine.

Best regards,
The LearnEnglish Team

Mingalar par
British council team
I want to become a air hostess so I wish to learn English language.

Hello Myanmar student,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! I hope we can help you achieve your dream. Work hard and I'm sure you'll succeed!

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

who and when & why - the rule was defined that "a" should be used with consonant and "an" should be used with a vowel sound

Hello bala_j,

Do you have a question? If so, could you please state it more clearly?

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team


Is there a difference between these two sentences?

Most of the houses have red roofs.
Most houses have red roofs.

Thank you!

Hello greyish,

Yes, there is a difference: in the first, a specific group of houses (e.g. the houses in one town) is referred to, whereas in the second, it speaks about all houses in general.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team