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 Dajana,
No, we don't store the points you get in exercises anywhere. You can do the exercises as many times as you want and get better scores each time. If you want, you can store them on your computer or on paper.
Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Adam JK
I have been faced with a problem particularly the uses of pronoun  I .
Can you tell me  why " I" as a pronoun is used in past continuous tense with auxiliary verb " was" while in present perfect tense is used with auxiliary verb  "have"
example I was playing football
example I have gone to school
if you don't understand my question let me simplify it why pronoun I is not included in third person singular  pronouns?

Hi hashmi, I'm samin from persia. I have same problme in iran but situation is really worse than india, for e.g. you have schools which students all have their lessons in english but here in iran its illegal and we only have lessons in persian, so its a big challange for iranian guys to escape from goverment forces and make themselves up to date. However we have so many institute which teach english but still we feel vacuity in this way... any way good luck for you

I can't agree less samin, despite all suppression, we still have some professional institute with great atmosphere and learned teachers.

hello everybody my name is melisa.I am new here .I am studying grammar for toefl test. can you give some tips for toefl test?? thank you.

Hi Melisa!

Welcome to LearnEnglish! If you're getting ready for a test, then I'm sure our grammar pages will provide some help. However, we're not a TOEFL site, I'm afraid - we can't really help with specific tips for that test.

Good luck, anyway!
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

thanks for this usefull site

Hi.Adam JK.Wish you a very Happy Christmas to you and your family.
I am very grateful that British Council is helping learners to improve their English with the help of  this website.I have one question regarding my English speaking.Whenever I asked by someone, especially in interview to speak on a particular topic,after speaking for four or five sentence,I got stuck after that.I don't know why this is happening to me.Is it because of nervousness or anxiety  or may be I have to improve my speaking skills.How should I improve my English speaking?

Hello Hashmi!
Adam's away, so let me see if I can help!
The most important thing is to practice your fluency. You don't have to talk to a native speaker though – try your friends and colleagues, or go to a class. Even, if you can't do that, try recording yourself using your computer or an online recorder like If you're going for interview, try to guess some of the questions in advance, and think about your answers. You can practice before the interview!
The second important thing is your attitude. Don't worry about mistakes, but focus on speaking. My students often ask me how to work on fluency, and I recommend that they make some classes or practice sessions about fluency, not accuracy. Instead of trying to get things perfect, they focus on trying to speak fluently. In other sessions, we go back to working on accuracy. Don't try to practice everything (fluency, grammar, pronunciation) at once.
Specifically for interview questions, remember that everyone is nervous in interviews. 4 or 5 sentences sounds pretty good if you don't know the questions before, and most interviewers will ask you extra questions to help out.
Hope that helps!
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Hashmi.
me too i have this problem & i think that it must speaking English a lot with someone;
can you help me Hashmi.can you speak with me & can you give me some of your time .