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 Ilariuccia,

In this context we would say 'for'. We could use 'on' when describing things that happened during the holiday:

For my last holiday I went to Cyprus.

On/During my last holiday I met a really nice guy who worked as a musician.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Is it right to say:
I've learned English since I was five ? Is it formal? or should I say five years old when I was talking formally.


Hello Marwa.Mohamed,

You can say '...since I was five' or '...since I was five years old' here. Neither is informal, though the second sounds a little more offical than the first in my view.

Your sentence is not incorrect but I think the present perfect continuous would be a more natural choice:

I've been learning English since...


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I found that alright.


Task A and Task B have to be done/has to be done.

in the above sentence what verb has to be used has/have?

Hello Pavan Kaur,

Since the subject ('Task A and Task B') is plural, the verb should also be plural ('have'). Though I'd probably rephrase it slightly if I were writing it as 'Tasks A and B have to be done'.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

No queries are being answered.

Is the team answering queries is on the holiday?

Feeling dejected ...

Hello Rox4090,

I've just answered one of your comments. We are indeed working less these days due to the holiday, though we are replying to several comments each day. We're sorry if you are disappointed, but please also remember that we offer this service free of charge.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

We vowed to return to the restaurant, for the food there was the best we had ever eaten.

Which sentence type is this?
After comma, ‘ for’ was used for which reason.
If it was explained by breaking into parts, it would be appreciable.


Hello Rox4090,

'for' is a subordingating conjunction that is used quite commonly in more formal writing or speaking to mean 'because'. This is a complex sentence and 'for' begins a subordinate clause.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team