Determiners and quantifiers

Determiners and quantifiers

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.  

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Average: 3.9 (68 votes)
Very helpful explaination sir. Now, can we also say - without article- ' Elephant is an impressive sight. ' This is because what I understand is that when the case is general - we can opt for zero article. Abou your 'Whale's' example - can we also say ' The whales are in danger of becoming extinct ' - plural with definite article. Abou not using 'a' in ' Whale's ' example - this is for the first time I am learning that using 'a' would cause to define the noun . If you could enlighten me on this concept. Also, how would the meanings in ' Love marriage' example change with different articles with singular and plural cases? I am eager to know all these because I have never come across such a detailed explaination about changes in meanings with changes in articles . Thanking you

Hello dipakrgandhi,

In my explanation I said we can use no article + plural countable noun or uncountable noun. 'Elephant' is a countable noun, so we need to say

Elephants are an impressive sight.

 

'The whales' would refer to a particular group of whales, not whales in general. For example, you might talk about 'the whales of the Atlantic Ocean' or similar.

 

When we say

A whale is an impressive sight

we are talking about a characteristic that is typical or representative of whales: being impressive is one of the things that goes with being a whale.

 

The reason we can't say

A whale might become extinct

is because being extinct is not something that happens to a whale, and not something which defines what a whale is.

 

The changes in 'love marriage' would be the same as the examples I gave. The choice of noun does not affect this.

 

Peter

The LeanEnglish Team

Submitted by Sheikh Salauddin on Mon, 10/12/2018 - 06:49

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Are words like "John's","Rahim's" determiners? Another one,Sir. Is the sentence"If I were a king!" correct? Thank you.

Hi Sheikh Salauddin,

Sometimes phrases like 'John's' are considered possessive forms of nouns and sometimes they are classed as a kind of possessive determiner. Since our grammar is a learner's grammar, we don't get into that kind of issue, but I expect you could find some discussion of it in the English Language and Usage StackExchange if you're interested.

'If I were a king!' is technically an incomplete sentence, but would probably be fine in most cases if the result clause were clear from the situation or context.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cbenglish on Sun, 09/12/2018 - 13:12

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Dear sirs, I wrote the following sentence in an essay, which is the very first sentence: "When we wake up in the morning and listen to the news or read the newspaper, we see the same old old stories." On re-reading the sentence, I am confused about my use of definite articles in front of news and newspaper. Is it also correct to say? "When we wake up in the morning and listen to news or read newspapers, we see the same old old stories." My thinking is that since it's the very first sentence, I should not use definite articles before news and newspaper. Is my reasoning correct? I really appreciate your guidance on the issue. Thank you very much, as always.
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Sun, 09/12/2018 - 17:59

In reply to by cbenglish

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Hi cbenglish,

When we speak about what is explained in radio, television, newspaper or new website reports, we also refer to this as 'the news' (with the definite article 'the' always used). So when you speak about 'listening to the news', it's correct to say 'the news' (and just 'news' is not correct).

You could say just 'read newspapers' instead of 'read the newspapers'. If you say 'the newspapers', there is some suggestion that the reader knows which newspapers you're talking about, but not necessarily. If it were my essay, I would most likely say 'the newspapers', as we often use 'the' here even when it's not completely clear which newspapers we're talking about.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Risa warysha on Sat, 10/11/2018 - 09:30

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Hi Sir. Could u tell me the difference between determiner and quantifier? What are pre-, central, and post determiners? Thank you,
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 11/11/2018 - 07:53

In reply to by Risa warysha

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Hello Risa warysha,

A quantifier is a type of determiner. The relevant wikipedia page (here) contains a list of the most common kinds of determiners.

 

Pre-, post- and central describe the positions of different determiners.

Pre-determiners come first, central determiners come next and postdeterminers come last.

Example: all the thirty women 

Here, 'all' is a pre-determiner, 'the' is a central determiner and 'thirty' is a postdeterminer.

 

 

There is some debate as to whether this terminology is helpful. Postdeterminers often have adjectival characteristics, for example, which other determiners do not, and are not only identified by their position.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by Mohd Zaffar on Thu, 11/10/2018 - 07:28

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which of the following sentence is correct? 1) He worked as an insurance agent before he went to the US. OR 2) He had worked as an insurance agent before he went to the US.

Hello Mohd Zaffar,

Both forms are possible here. Without a wider context there is nothing to show which would be preferable.

Generally, we use past simple for sequences of actions (first... later...). We use past perfect when an earlier action has some relevance to or influence on a later action.

You can read more about the past perfect on these pages:

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/b1-b2-grammar/past-perfect

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/grammar/english-grammar-reference/past-perfect

Please note that we are on a page on the topic of articles and determiners, not the past perfect. We ask users to post questions on relevant pages as it helps to keep the comments sections useful for other users who may have similar questions.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mohd Zaffar on Mon, 08/10/2018 - 09:53

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hello sir which of the following sentence is correct? 1) We have never had any dispute with them. or 2) We never had any dispute with them.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 09/10/2018 - 06:10

In reply to by Mohd Zaffar

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Hello Mohd Zaffar,

Both sentences are grammatically correct. Which one you need will depend upon the context and what you are trying to say.

The first sentence describes an ongoing situation. It tells us that you still know 'them' and up to the present time have not had any disputes.

The second sentence describes finished time. It tells us that when you knew 'them' there were no disputes, but we understand that you no longer know them for some reason, so there cannot now be any disputes. You might use this sentence if the situation has changed:

They used to live in our time and we never had any disputes with them. They moved away last year.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mohd Zaffar on Fri, 05/10/2018 - 04:30

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Hello sir Which of the following sentence is correct? 1) The man asked his son to go Agra by bike. Or 2) The man asked his son go Agra by bike 1) I suggest you (put) put on sun block immediately before you get a sun burn. why not sentence is like:-- 1) I suggest you (put) to put on sunblock immediately before you get a sun burn. similarly other sentences like ->The environmentalist leader felt it was extremely important that the people of the city be allowed to voice their concerns over the new hotel being built on the bay. Why ‘to be allowed’ is not used Sir I read subjunctive topic in English grammar. i understood the use of bare infinitive verbs but have problem in using 'to' in such types of sentences. Sometimes use of 'to' is corrected and sometimes not please explain with examples in this regard Thanking You
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 08/10/2018 - 09:42

In reply to by Mohd Zaffar

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Hello Mohd Zaffar,

That's a lot of questions! I'll answer a few and then if you have any others, please ask us again, though please limit yourself to one or two per comment.

The first sentence is correct, though the preposition 'to' is needed before 'Agra'.

As for your questions about verbs like 'suggest' and 'feel' and the patterns that follow them, this really depends on the specific verb being used. In other words, each verb is followed by different patterns. You can find information about these patterns in a good dictionary -- for example, see this page on the verb 'suggest'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mohd Zaffar on Thu, 04/10/2018 - 06:35

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Hello sir Which of the following sentence is correct? 1) The man asked his son to go Agra by bike. Or 2) The man asked his son go Agra by bike.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 04/10/2018 - 07:10

In reply to by Mohd Zaffar

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Hello Mohd Zaffar,

You need to use 'to' here so the first sentence is correct and the second one is incorrect.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

thank you sir but what about following sentences like 1) I suggest you (put) put on sun block immediately before you get a sun burn. why not sentence is like:-- 1) I suggest you (put) to put on sunblock immediately before you get a sun burn. similarly other sentences like ->The environmentalist leader felt it was extremely important that the people of the city be allowed to voice their concerns over the new hotel being built on the bay. Why ‘to be allowed’ is not used Sir I read subjunctive topic in English grammar. i understood the use of bare infinitive verbs but have problem in using 'to' in such types of sentences. Sometimes use of 'to' is corrected and sometimes not please explain with examples in this regard Thanking You

Hello Mohd Zaffar,

This is really just a question of verb patterns. Certain verbs are used with a to-infinitive and others are not. It is a simply a question of learning which are which; there is nothing about the verb which tells you what kind of pattern it follows, I'm afraid.

suggest someone + subjunctive (I suggest you go)

feel it important that someone + subjunctive (I feel it important that he go)

 

You can read more about different verb patterns in the relevant section (here) – us the links on the right to move to specific areas.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by chandersheel on Tue, 02/10/2018 - 19:42

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I want to know where and how to use 'would' (in past sense) and where to use 'did' ?

Hello chandersheel,

These are both auxiliary verbs. We use 'did' to form questions and negative in the past tense:

 

She went to the shop.

Question: Did she go to the shop? / Where did she go?

Negative: She didn't go to the shop.

 

'Would' is a modal verb and we use it in a number of ways. You can see those ways on this page.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Fri, 14/09/2018 - 04:46

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Some times first letter of every word in a heading or title of an article is capitalized, except for article 'the'. e.g. this headline : 'Sinking Deeper Into the MSP Mire' Hear MSP means Minimum support price for agriculture commodities. I would like to know the different conventions in beginning every word in heading with capital letter , and why 'the' starts with lowercase letter in above heading.

Hello dipakrgandhi,

The convention for titles is to capitalise each word other than what are considered 'grammar words' (articles, prepositions etc). However, a specific style will be set by each publication and some prefer to use normal capitalisation, for example. The best way to familiarise yourself with these styles is to look at a range of newspapers and other media sources and pay attention to how they do it.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by p t balagopal on Wed, 12/09/2018 - 07:16

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Sir, I wrote the following first sentence while forwarding an application to the higher authorities . " The application for the revival of the account no 3857DF received from the depositor ,Mr. John is sent herewith." Here , I am introducing an application of which the higher authorities have no prior knowledge . So I must have used ' an application '. But when a noun is post modified by a prepositional phrase { ' for revival ----} , definite article should be used as I did . Which is correct ? Similarly can I use 'application for revival ' instead of 'application for the revival ' ? Kindly explain .
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Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 13/09/2018 - 07:15

In reply to by p t balagopal

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Hello p t balagopal,

The definite article is required here as the sentence contains its own clarification of which application is being referred to. You can use either 'the revival' or 'revival'. However, we would not use any article before 'account'. When a noun is numbered in this way we use the zero article. Thus, we would say 'go to house number 3' not 'the house'.

 

The setence would therefore be as follows:

The application for revival of account no 3857DF received from the depositor, Mr. John, is sent herewith.

 

This is a very formal phrasing, however, and not the normal way we would normally phrase it. I think we would use 'enclosed' (if the application is part of a letter) or 'attached' (if sent electronically):

Please find enclosed the application for revival of account no 3857DF, received from the depositor, Mr. John.

Please find attached the application for revival of account no 3857DF, received from the depositor, Mr. John.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Thanks for your reply. I never expected it to be so detailed. Thanks for your effort. Balagopal

Submitted by Akong on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 23:11

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Sir A friend asked: is the statement "what did James is wrong" correct or grammatically wrong?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 12/09/2018 - 06:25

In reply to by Akong

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Hello Akong,

The sentence is wrong. The correct sentence would be as follows:

What James did is wrong.

 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by Akong on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 10:37

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Sir Which of these sentences is correct 1 "What John did is wrong" 2 "What John did was wrong" Then sir, in the correct sentence, does "what" serve as DEMONSTRATIVE or INTEROGATIVE determiner?
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 18:17

In reply to by Akong

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Hi Akong,

Both are correct and the structure of both is that of a wh-cleft sentence. 'what' acts as a kind of pronoun here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by amol on Wed, 22/08/2018 - 06:23

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Hello Sir, I am confused with the use of nouns in the following sentence: 1. The German or The Germans are patriot. Which one is correct? Thanks in advance.

Hello amol,

The Germans are patriots is the correct option.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cbenglish on Wed, 22/08/2018 - 05:08

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Dear Sirs, Please have a look at these two sentences: 1. The girls sitting over there are my cousins. 2. Girls sitting over there are my cousins. I know the first sentence is grammatically correct but I can't explain why sentence 2 is incorrect. Let's say, my listener (say my friend) is hearing it from me for the first time. In this situation, he does not know the specific or definite girls. I tend to believe that this situation calls for a zero article (I am confused if I have to say zero article or a zero article). How does the meaning change if I use sentence 2 or it would be patently wrong? I would be grateful if you could provide me with some clues about how to think about this issue. Reading grammar books is not helping me much in this matter! Thanks in advance!
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Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 22/08/2018 - 08:08

In reply to by cbenglish

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Hello cbenglish,

We use the definite article (the) when the noun is known and/or identified; in other words, when a specific item is referred to and not just any item or all items in general.

In your sentence the item is specified. You are not just talking about any girls, but about the specific girls who are sitting over there. Therefore the definite article is needed and the sentence without 'the' is incorrect.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir, Why do you say "...referred to" and not just "...referred". Thanks so much!

Hello Ivánnn,

The verb 'refer' always occurs with the preposition 'to'. It is what we call a dependent preposition.

You can read more about these on this page.

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cbenglish on Sun, 19/08/2018 - 07:28

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Hello Sirs, I am trying to compose a sentence: Imagine what it would be like to live without [a] language. I just can't figure out whether I should use an indefinite article before the noun language. To me use of an article in the sentence above appears optional. Am I right in my thinking? Thanks in advance!

Hello cbenglish,

The sentence is correct both with and without the article, and both have a general meaning.

It is possible to use different articles with a general meaning but there are some changes in emphasis and even meaning. I wrote quite a long explanation of this in answer to another use a while ago. You can find that post here"

https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/comment/121889#comment-121889

Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Sir In the sentence: the book on the table is mine..we understand that the article is definit (the) What if we say: that book on the table is mine. is (that) also a definite article in this case or the sentence is wrong.
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Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 10/09/2018 - 15:59

In reply to by Akong

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Hello Akong,

Yes, you can use 'that' and the sentence is grammatically correct. 'that', like 'the', is a determiner, but only 'the' is a definite article.

By the way, you only need to submit your posts once. We check all comments before they are published and so it can take some time before your comments appear on our site. Thanks in advance for your cooperation with this.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by aseel aftab on Fri, 17/08/2018 - 13:17

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They have eaten it all. In this sentence to me all is an adverb because it is describing how much they have eaten. But a dictinary is saying it is a pronoun. Plz guide.

Hello aseel aftab,

The word 'all' has many uses. You can find good guides here:

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/quantifiers/all

https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/all_1

 

However, I would suggest that you try not to worry too much about the labels given to particular parts of speech. We can use 'all' as a pronoun followed by of (all of them) or following an object pronoun (them all), but identifying the name of the form is much less important than knowing what it means and how it is used.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by aseel aftab on Fri, 17/08/2018 - 13:14

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What is the difference between all the food and all of the food?

Hello aseel aftab,

All can be used with general or specific meaning; all of can only be used with specific meaning:

All cats have whiskers. [every example of a cat anywhere - general]

All of cats have whiskers.

All these cats are black. [every example of a cat in this group - specific]

All of these cats are black.

 

Both can be used with nouns (as above).

Both can be used with possessive adjectives (all your cats / all of your cats).

We can only use all of before pronouns:

All of you are my friends.

All you are my friends.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by aseel aftab on Thu, 16/08/2018 - 00:54

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What's the difference between a determiner of quantifiers and pronoun. Some dictionaries also say one thing is both pronoun and determiner and their uses are also same so how can we avoid confusions?

Hello aseel aftab,

Words can have different uses, so a word like 'fast' can be an adjective (a fast car), and adverb (go fast) and a verb (fast for a week), for example.

With regard to the names given to these forms, please see my answer to your other question below.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by aseel aftab on Thu, 16/08/2018 - 00:09

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Are they not demonstrative adjectives or simply adjectives as they are describing noun? This is what I have read in an english learning book plz guide