Determiners and quantifiers

Determiners and quantifiers are words we use in front of nouns. We use determiners to identify things (this book, my sister) and we use quantifiers to say how much or how many (a few people, a lot of problems).

Read clear grammar explanations and example sentences to help you understand how determiners and quantifiers are used. Then, put your grammar knowledge into practice by doing the exercises.  

Choose a topic and start improving your English grammar today.

 

Take your language skills and your career to the next level
Get unlimited access to our self-study courses for only £5.99/month.

Submitted by Bassant2000 on Mon, 29/08/2016 - 19:51

Permalink
Can "during" be followed by a gerund or only by a noun / noun phrase ? Can I say " During watching the film , the light went out " ? or just say " During the film .........."

Hello Bassant,

The generally accepted rule is that 'during' cannot be followed by a gerund. You can find constructions such as 'during studying' in some contexts but I would say that these are generally not considered good style or correct standard English.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by marwa.awadallah on Mon, 29/08/2016 - 10:26

Permalink
Dear Sir, I need to know if I wrote a sentence with a noun phrase "The isolated compound is ......" and then I wrote "The isolated is ...." throughout as it is already mentioned before that "The isolated is ...." refers to "The isolated compound", this will be grammatically correct. That is, I would like to know whether "the" followed by an "adjective" can stand alone as a noun phrase without adding a head noun as I already added it previously and it will be understood from the context. Thanks in advance

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 29/08/2016 - 14:21

In reply to by marwa.awadallah

Permalink

Hello marwa,

Yes, you can use an adjective like that, though this kind of use is relatively rare in English compared to many other languages (though I'm not familiar with Arabic) and I expect it would sound unnatural if you used it repeatedly in this way. It's difficult to give you more specific advice without seeing the text, but usually this form is used when there are two different kinds of compounds that you are contrasting, e.g. an isolated compound vs some other kind of compound. Even then, as I mentioned, it would be unusual to continue saying just 'isolated' after that.

I don't know if this OWL page might be useful for you or not, but I thought I'd mention it.

I hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Naunglai on Wed, 24/08/2016 - 16:34

Permalink
Hello !!! I am trying to find dictionary here. I can't find it. Could anybody please tell me? Thank you.

Hello Naunglai,

Our link to the Cambridge Dictionary wasn't working correctly, so we took it off the site. But you can still look up words by using their website directly.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew international on Thu, 18/08/2016 - 18:34

Permalink
Dear Sir Please clarify this for me. Salt is uncountable but we can say 'Please pass me the salt. Also the sugar in the bottle but how do you say Dinner we had yesterday ... or The dinner we had yesterday ...Is the latter wrong. Please let me know. Thank you. Regards

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 18/08/2016 - 20:06

In reply to by Andrew international

Permalink

Hello Andrew international,

I'm afraid I'm not sure I understand your question. We can use 'the' with both countable and uncountable nouns.

'The dinner we had yesterday' is the correct sentence. The sentence identifies which dinner you are talking about and so 'the' is needed.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir Thank you. Now it is clear. I know 'the' can be used with both uncountable and countable nouns but I haven't come across any text with 'the' before breakfast, lunch, dinner but sugar, salt etc 'yes' such as the examples given so I was unsure. Now I know one can use 'the' directly with dinner, too according to context. Thank you again. Regards

Submitted by Gupta.karnika26 on Fri, 12/08/2016 - 09:13

Permalink
Dear sir/ma'am I want to use article 'a','an' ,'the', in the interrogative sentence where did you buy umbrella ? Please explain me,why is 'the' article is used and why not 'an' is used as its a vowel. Also, do tell me the usage of all the articles in interrogative sentences ? Which your team of British council haven't mentioned on your site.

Hello Gupta.karnika26,

The usage of articles is independent of whether the sentence is an interrogative, so there are no separate rules for this. It is entirely the same as in any sentence.

We use the definite article ('the') when the item is known to both the speaker and the listener. In the sentence 'Where did you buy the umbrella?' both the speaker and the listener must know which umbrella is being discussed or the sentence would make no sense.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jenny Tu on Wed, 10/08/2016 - 10:34

Permalink
I can not drag and drop the word! please help me!

Hello Jenny Tu,

First click on the word, then move it, then click to release it. You do not need to hold the click.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by xuseen cali on Thu, 28/07/2016 - 20:24

Permalink
This is very important grammar course.

Submitted by Gary_Lee on Tue, 12/07/2016 - 10:11

Permalink
HI~ The answer is 'All of the things in the store are 30% off the regular prices.' But what if I say 'All of things in the store are 30% off the regular prices.' Is the 2nd sentence really wrong? If yes, what's the difference between the 2 sentences? Thanks~

Hello Gary_Lee,

'All of things' is not correct in any context in English. You can say 'all of the things' or 'all things' and both are correct, though 'everything' is more frequently used in this context. There is no real difference in meaning.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by SaharEch on Mon, 30/05/2016 - 16:30

Permalink
salam! would you please help me fill in the blank on these examples: 1/__British drink too much tea. 2/Dancing is __ more interesting activity than reading. 3/As__captain of__ship I have __ complete authority. 4/__people we met on__holiday in__north of Englandcame from __USA. 5/ __ Teachers are like __weather,one minute they're good,__other they're bad. thank you!

Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 31/05/2016 - 06:55

In reply to by SaharEch

Permalink

Hello SaharEch,

I'm afraid we don't do this! It's best for you to do this kind of practice exercise yourself – you'll learn much more that way. If you want to ask us about one of the questions, explaining your answer and why you chose it, then we're happy to help you understand the sentence, but you should generally do this kind of work yourself.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tobyfive1222 on Fri, 20/05/2016 - 12:56

Permalink
I am not so sure when to put an article before a noun. Example: "Guessing the meaning from context" Why shouldn't we put "a" before "context"? Are there any rules regarding this issue? Thanks :) P.S When we ask questions, we use either "is there" or "are there" , depending on the context and the predicted answer, right?

Hi tobyfive1222,

The wider context, that is, the sentences before and after the sentence that you ask about, are essential in determining if an article should be used. In this case, 'meaning from context' looks as if it's almost like an idiomatic expression, but in general, you could use 'a' or 'the' before 'context' depending on how the wider context beyond that sentence.

'Is there' is generally used with singular nouns and 'are there' with plural nouns – see our it and there page for more on this. I think that should answer your question, but if not, please feel free to ask us again. The more specific your question, the better.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by charanchi on Sun, 15/05/2016 - 18:58

Permalink
What is the differnce between being and been? please

Hello charanchi,

These are different forms of the verb 'to be': 'being' is the present participle and 'been' is the past participle. They are used in a number of ways, usually as part of a larger verb phrase. A common use of 'being' is in continuous forms, for example ('He is being stupid') while 'been' is commonly used in perfect forms ('I have been here for a long time').

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I am I was I will be ∆∆∆ I am being I was being I will be being ∆∆∆ I have been I had been I will have been ∆∆∆ I have been being I had been being I will have been being ∆∆∆ Be is stative verb , we do not use in progressive tenses as a present participle but when we do, it means for this time, not always ∆∆∆

Submitted by arianty on Fri, 06/05/2016 - 03:23

Permalink
Why my comment unpublished??

Hello arianty,

We read all comments before they are published, which means that it can take several hours or even a day before you see yours published. This is how we keep LearnEnglish free from spam, inappropriate content and clutter. The last comment of yours that I see before this one is on our personal pronouns page – is that the one you meant?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alikiani on Thu, 28/04/2016 - 08:45

Permalink
Hi , I'm trying ro improve my English and here I have a question ; what's the meaning of " there has to be ... " for instance there has to be a song?

Hello Alikiani,

There are two parts to 'there has to be'. The first part is 'there' as a dummy subject + the verb 'be', which is used to say something exists. The second part is 'have to' + verb, which is used to express obligation. So this means that a song is needed or necessary.

I hope that helps clarify it for you!

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jurgen Hesbania on Sat, 09/04/2016 - 20:35

Permalink
Hey Peter, I think there is a slip of the pen in the paragraph explaining general determiners: we can use a uncount noun or... Isn' t it an uncount? Great site, Thx a lot Best regards, Jurgen

Hello Jurgen,

You're absolutely right. I've just fixed this – thanks very much for pointing this out to us!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mathivanan palraj on Tue, 01/03/2016 - 07:02

Permalink
Is it 'an uncount noun' or 'a uncount noun'?

Hello mathivanan palraj,

The sound here is a vowel sound /u/ and so we use 'an'.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by chiarencher on Sun, 28/02/2016 - 13:38

Permalink
Hello sir, Which is correct? 1.Mona claimed that she had seen an unicorn. 2.Mona claimed that she had seen a unicorn. Thank you.

Hello chiarencher,

2 is correct. When the 'u' at the beginning of a word is pronounced like 'yu' (e.g. 'unicorn', 'university', not 'unlike', 'up', etc.), 'a' is used, not 'an'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lien Do on Sat, 27/02/2016 - 06:49

Permalink
Hello madam/sir, Thank you for all information, but some time I confuse between those and these. Could you please to help me to clarify its? Thanks. Lien Do.

Hello Lien Do,

'These' and 'those' (and 'this'/'that', 'here'/'there') are examples of deictic words - words whose meaning depends on the context in which they are used. Generally, 'these' refers to something which the speaker perceives as close and 'those' to something which the speaker sees as distant. This could be physical closeness or closeness in terms of time, or other kinds of closeness.

If you have an example then we'll be happy to comment on it directly. However, please remember that the context is crucial for the meaning of these items, so an isolated sentence is not a good example.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by salemzwai on Sat, 13/02/2016 - 10:04

Permalink
Hello Are there any rules for using determiners befor the word few ? Thank you in advance.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 14/02/2016 - 11:38

In reply to by salemzwai

Permalink

Hello salemzwai,

The rules for using 'the' are not related to whether or not it is followed by 'few', but to the use of 'the' generally. Is there a particular example you are confused by? We'll be happy to comment if so.

 


Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much for your reply. I have an example. Why sould we use (a) before few in this sentence? A few good men who are doing their duties. Best regards
I am sorry. I think the previous sentence was incomplete. Perhaps I should have said : We have a few good men, who are doing their deuties. Thank you

Hello salemzwai,

The difference between 'a few' and 'few' is as follows:

'a few' means 'enough'

'few' means 'not enough'

So, if I say 'I have a few friends' then I mean that I think this is a good number; I am not lonely.

If I say 'I have few friends' then I mean that it is not enough and I am lonely.

The same distinction is made between 'a little' and 'little' for uncount nouns.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for the helpful information. Best regards
Hello sir. Unfortunately I have a big problem with understanding the differences between "other" and "another".Could you help me with this question? Thanks a lot for your attention.

Submitted by muslimbadshah on Thu, 11/02/2016 - 06:23

Permalink
Sir, I am confused with something in this below mentioned sentence. Would you please help me solve my problem? _____________ Would you like another glass of wine? As far as I know "another" is a determiner in this sentence but I am confused with "glass". Could you please help me what the glass is in this sentence? Is this also a determiner or something else. Glass of wine is a noun phrase but what's glass itself in this sentence?

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 12/02/2016 - 05:45

In reply to by muslimbadshah

Permalink

Hello muslimbadshah,

'a glass of ...' is commonly used with drinks to indicate quantity. 'glass' in this case is a count noun (i.e. you can say 'two glasses of water, please'). It might be useful for you to look up 'glass' in our dictionary – be sure to scroll down until you see the appropriate entry.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by coopie on Thu, 11/02/2016 - 00:40

Permalink
I'm having trouble with classifying the word 'all'. My logic tells me it's usually a determiner, but can you have two determiners? eg: 'I ate all the rice.'

Hello coopie,

You are correct that it is a determiner. It is possible for determiners to appear in certain combinations. You can find a list of these here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by shinhwa on Mon, 25/01/2016 - 07:26

Permalink
I have the apple. And this is yours. I have the apple. And that is yours. I have the apple. And it is yours. Hi sir. I have a question. I want to know about difference of "This/that/it". Can you tell me about that? Thanks.