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.




Please see this sentence.

Physical exercise has many merits as health can be improved by it. Diabetes patients are most benefited by it because science has proofs. It also helps in controlling hypertension.

In the above sentence, the pronoun “it” is used.
Is the pronoun used correctly?

The word “it” in the last sentence refers to science or the physical exercise.
In the last sentence If the word “also” is not used, the meaning of the pronoun will be changed or not.
These are some of the very complicated issues faced.

Please explain.

Hi ,

In regard to use the demonstrative “this”, here a few sentences are written.

Crime rate is increasing due to the deteriorating law and order. This isssue could only be solved if countermeasures would be taken.

See usage of the word” this”. Is it adding cohesiveness in the sentence?

Is it used correctly?

Why we say near bath island not near the bath island? Tell me a website where these exceptions are descriptively mentioned.

Hello aseel aftab,

Bath Island is a proper name and we do not use articles with names. This is a consistent rule, so we use no article with other names: Japan, Madagascar, Trinidad and Tobago. However, we use the definite article with descriptive names which include the word 'of' (The United States of America, The Isle of Skye), or whose name is a plural (The West Indies, The Falkland Islands).

You can see the rules for article use on our articles pages - there are links on this page just under the task window.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Tiger,animal equal to lion in size,is native of Asia.
So can I say" Tiger,the animal equal to a lion in size,is native of Asia." Is this insertion of article correct in the latter sentence?

Hello aseel aftab,

We would not use 'the' here because if you say 'the animal equal to a lion in size' then you are suggesting that only one animal is equal to a lion in size. We would say 'an animal equal...' because there are a number of animals equal to a lion in size and the tiger is only one of these.

The use of articles for general meaning is a complex one. If you want to see a summary of how they are used then please take a look at my explanation to another user.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Do you see a blue sky or the blue sky? Because we are talking about a particular sky.

Hello aseel aftab,

I'd need to see the complete context and understand what you want to say to give you the best advice on this, but in general we speak about the sky, as there is only one.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear sir

"You should listen to the radio more". This sentence is correct, but, "Click here for answers more" is not correct. Why is that?. what is the difference?

Hello pumbi,

As Kirk said, 'more' can be an adverb (modifying a verb, clause etc) or a quantifier (modifying a noun). In the sentence 'You should listen to the radio more' it is an adverb and comes at the end of the clause. In the sentence 'Click here for more answers' it is an adjective modifying the noun 'answers' and comes before the noun.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team