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Determiners and quantifiers

Determiners and quantifiers are words we use in front of nouns. We use determiners to identify things (this book, my sister) and we use quantifiers to say how much or how many (a few people, a lot of problems).

Read clear grammar explanations and example sentences to help you understand how determiners and quantifiers are used. Then, put your grammar knowledge into practice by doing the exercises.  

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Dear Sirs,
Please have a look at these two sentences:

1. The girls sitting over there are my cousins.
2. Girls sitting over there are my cousins.

I know the first sentence is grammatically correct but I can't explain why sentence 2 is incorrect. Let's say, my listener (say my friend) is hearing it from me for the first time. In this situation, he does not know the specific or definite girls. I tend to believe that this situation calls for a zero article (I am confused if I have to say zero article or a zero article). How does the meaning change if I use sentence 2 or it would be patently wrong? I would be grateful if you could provide me with some clues about how to think about this issue. Reading grammar books is not helping me much in this matter!

Thanks in advance!

Hello cbenglish,

We use the definite article (the) when the noun is known and/or identified; in other words, when a specific item is referred to and not just any item or all items in general.

In your sentence the item is specified. You are not just talking about any girls, but about the specific girls who are sitting over there. Therefore the definite article is needed and the sentence without 'the' is incorrect.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,

Why do you say "...referred to" and not just "...referred". Thanks so much!

Hello Ivánnn,

The verb 'refer' always occurs with the preposition 'to'. It is what we call a dependent preposition.

You can read more about these on this page.



The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sirs,

I am trying to compose a sentence:

Imagine what it would be like to live without [a] language.

I just can't figure out whether I should use an indefinite article before the noun language. To me use of an article in the sentence above appears optional. Am I right in my thinking?

Thanks in advance!

Hello cbenglish,

The sentence is correct both with and without the article, and both have a general meaning.

It is possible to use different articles with a general meaning but there are some changes in emphasis and even meaning. I wrote quite a long explanation of this in answer to another use a while ago. You can find that post here"



The LearnEnglish Team

In the sentence: the book on the table is mine..we understand that the article is definit (the)

What if we say: that book on the table is mine. is (that) also a definite article in this case or the sentence is wrong.

Hello Akong,

Yes, you can use 'that' and the sentence is grammatically correct. 'that', like 'the', is a determiner, but only 'the' is a definite article.

By the way, you only need to submit your posts once. We check all comments before they are published and so it can take some time before your comments appear on our site. Thanks in advance for your cooperation with this.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

They have eaten it all. In this sentence to me all is an adverb because it is describing how much they have eaten. But a dictinary is saying it is a pronoun. Plz guide.

Hello aseel aftab,

The word 'all' has many uses. You can find good guides here:


However, I would suggest that you try not to worry too much about the labels given to particular parts of speech. We can use 'all' as a pronoun followed by of (all of them) or following an object pronoun (them all), but identifying the name of the form is much less important than knowing what it means and how it is used.



The LearnEnglish Team