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, how can I identify the word "many" as an determiner with the same as an adjective or pronoun? Thank you for your help in advance .

Hello Bahraam,

I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean. Could you try to rephrase the question, and to include an example of what you mean? It's always helpful to include an example sentence, I think.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Dear Sir

In this sentence- He passed away very suddenly few days ago. My problem, is it few days ago or a few days ago?

Hello sujit,

In this sentence you need 'a few'. 'Few' by itself is not correct.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team


Please; I would like to know Why we can't use the article 'the' in 'she believes progress has been made in THE teacher education'; isn't 'teacher education' specific?
or should it be 'The teacher's education' to use 'the'

Thank you in advance

Hello 4mystudents,

The phrase 'teacher education' describes the general concept, not a specific example. The word 'teacher' here functions as an adjective, describing a particular kind of education.

If you want to talk about the education which a particular teacher received then you would say 'the teacher's education', as you suggest.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Please help...what is correct - Is the article 'the' required before 'insurance transactions' or the article 'the' is not required before 'insurance transactions' in the following sentence:
The integration will enable XYZ to process insurance transactions required for the initial implementation of the application.
The integration will enable XYZ to process the insurance transactions required for the initial implementation of the application.

Hello Ashima,

It depends. If the insurance transactions you're talking about have already been mentioned -- for example, if it's a specific set of transactions that have already been mentioned -- then yes, 'the' should be used. But if it's speaking about transactions in general, then 'the' should not be used.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, Can you please tell me the difference between every and all.
Context, I need a copy of every page of the document.
I need a copy of all pages of the document.

Which is 'more' correct