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 Abdullah,

Different style guides make different recommendations on how to punctuate sentences.  I'd say that most would punctuate a question the first way, i.e. with the question mark inside the quotation marks. There is no difference in meaning between them.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Sorry, my question was about the difference between " What do you feel about John?" and " How do you feel about John"?

thanks in advance

Hello Abdullah,

It's unusual to use 'what' with the verb 'feel' in this way -- 'how' is much more common. As far as I know, this is just a question of use, i.e. this is the way people speak. It's not that 'what' is unintelligible; it just sounds a bit strange. If you put a noun such as 'feelings' or 'emotions' after 'what', however, then it would work.

By the way, if you change the verb to 'think', the opposite is true, i.e. 'what' is commonly used and 'how' is not.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Whose coat is this?
Does this sentence contain two specific determiners namely "whose" and "this"?

Hello Mannkhan,

'Whose' is a determiner in this example but 'this' is a demonstrative pronoun.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I have eat and I have eaten
Which one is right

Hello Akash23,

'I have eat' is not a correct form.

'I have eaten' is a possible form. Whether or not it is correct will depend upon the sentence in which it is used and the context, of course.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,

Could you tell me which one is correct?

A. 2 other students
B. The 2 other students
C. Other 2 students
D. The other 2 students
E. Another 2 students
F. 2 another students

Thank you very much

Hello Hai,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers to tasks from elsewhere. We're a small team here and if we tried to answer questions like this we would end up doing our users' homework and tests for them, which is just not possible with so many users. I can tell you that several of these are grammatically correct but which is needed in a given context will depend upon that context.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter M

Thank you for the reply. I would to make you understand that I didn't ask you for my homework because I am not a student. I know how to use "other and another" but I am a bit confused when I use them with a number.

I read some grammar books and I found that we can use other and another before the number like another 5 people, the other 5 people or another few years.

However, when I was reading some articles online, I came across something like "three other surgical interventions, 2 other students or a few other friends. Therefore, I made a list of possible answers and asked you. I hope you can help.

Best wishes