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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Soumis par Hosseinpour le dim 03/06/2018 - 13:46

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Hello dear team, In the following sentences what is the reason for using different prepositions with the words (street and road). We use two prepositions with street, (on street) shows homeless people, and (in) shows physical attendance. I watched a video from The British Council ( a dog's life) it says: 1.Walking (on the street) at night can be very dangerous. 2. People walking (on dangerous road). 3. It's dangerous to walk (on the road). 4. It's dangerous to walk (in the road). Thank you

Hi Hosseinpour,

It's good to try to make sense of how prepositions are used, but it's also important to realise that since they are used quite irregularly in English, sometimes you just have to use one or the other depending on the context. The general rules for 'in' and 'on' are summarised on this page. As far as I know, the prepositions are used in the same way with both 'road' and 'street'.

There is also quite a lot of variation in varieties of English -- in other words, in some places, 'in the road' may be more commonly used than 'on the road'. For example, I'd say that 'in the street' is the most commonly used in British English, whereas in American English, 'on the street' is more common. In American English, they also say 'in the street' but it implies being in the middle of the street in many cases.

'It's dangerous to walk in the street' is correct.

I hope this helps -- if you have any other specific questions, please let me know.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Adya's le ven 01/06/2018 - 08:47

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Hi In one grammar book it's given that the definite article 'the' should be used in place of possessive adjectives, like his or my. The book suggests that we should write 'He was hit on the head' and that 'He was hit on his head' is incorrect. What is correct?

Soumis par Kirk le sam 02/06/2018 - 08:31

En réponse à par Adya's

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Hi Adya's,

In phrases that discuss blows to or pains in a person's body, we tend to use 'the' instead of a possessive adjective. 'He was hit on the head' is what British native speakers say, not 'on his head'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Hosseinpour le mer 30/05/2018 - 21:14

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Hello dear Peter, Thank you a lot, thank you.

Soumis par Hosseinpour le dim 27/05/2018 - 16:30

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Hello dear team, I will raise the matter (at) the next meeting. She said that dad was (in) a meeting. Why do we use (at and in) in this situations with meeting. Thank you

Hello Hosseinpour,

These are very subtle distinctions. We generally use at with a more general meaning than in. For example:

at the school - This means somewhere close to the school. It could be outside or inside the building.

in the school - This means inside the building.

 

With some words the distinction is very small and it is really a question of conventions of use and I think both in and at could be used in both examples.

I would say that at a meeting suggests participation in a general sense: going to the place, meeting the people, chatting and also the actual meeting itself. On the other hand in a meeting suggests something more precise: the actual meeting itself from start to finish. However, the distinction is very subtle, as I said.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Hosseinpour le jeu 24/05/2018 - 17:24

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Hello dear Peter, Thank you very much, thank you.

Soumis par Hosseinpour le jeu 17/05/2018 - 12:26

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Hello dear team, I want to party and by party I mean read books. I think that read should be (reading). Am I right? If an ing form , so what is the reason? Thank you

Hello Hosseinour,

The -ing form is not needed here because the word read is intended to fit in the same place as party. We can think of the sentence like this:

I want to party and by party I mean (I want to) read books.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par omar123 le ven 11/05/2018 - 12:22

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what is the difference between that this these and those plz

Hello omar123,

We use this and that with singular reference.

These and those are used with plural reference.

 

We use this and these to describe something which is close to us in some way. This could be physically close but it could also be close in other ways, such as close in time. For example, if we are inside a house then we would generally use this to describe it, and that to describe another house (next door or across the street). If we talk about time then this generally means the next one ('this weekend', for example) and that generally means the previous one ('last weekend').

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Hosseinpour le lun 07/05/2018 - 10:41

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Hello, dear team, I’ve had my briefcase stolen, Is this equal to ( my briefcase was stolen), any difference? Thank you

Hello Hosseinpour,

Yes, that is correct. We can use to 'had sth done' construction with the meaning of 'this happened to me' to describe unexpected events.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par cbenglish le dim 06/05/2018 - 14:02

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Dear Sirs, I wrote the following the sentence: Writing an/the introduction to an essay is challenging. I was confused whether I should use an or the before the noun introduction. It appears to me both are acceptable. Am I right in my thinking? Thanks for your incredible (free) help.

Hi cbenglish,

That's right, both 'an' and 'the' are possible here. Which one would be better depends on the context. Have you seen our Articles 1 and 2 pages? The explanations there might be useful for you, or if you have a specific context in which you'd say this, please explain it to us and we can suggest which article would be more appropriate in that context.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par cbenglish le ven 27/04/2018 - 14:26

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Dear Sirs, I wrote the following sentences: 1. Hinduism is followed by millions in India. 2. Hindu religion is followed by millions in India. I felt that the first sentence is correct, but I could not be sure about the second one. It could be right but I felt that the sentence should read "The Hindu religion..." (i.e., the term Hindu religion should be preceded by the definite article). Am I right in my thinking? Or both are correct? If the term Hindu religion requires the definite article, what is the reason for this? Thank you very much.

Hello cbenglish,

You are correct. No article is used in the first sentence because 'Hinduism' is an abstract noun and so no article is used. You could use the definite article if you want to distinguish between different versions of Hinduism:

the Hunduism of modern India

the Hinduism of the Indian diaspora

 

In the second sentence the definite article is needed because you are specifying which of a number of religions you are describing. If you talk about religion as an abstract concept then no article is needed:

every society, as far as we know, has created for itself some form of religion

for many people, religion is a key part of their identity

We do not use articles with the proper names of religions, so we say Islam, Christianity, Hunduism, Judaism, Buddhism and so on. However, if we specify a particular religion by using an adjective then we use the definite article:

the Christian religion grew out of the Jewish faith

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Many many thanks. I feel like I will never be able to fully understand the proper use of articles. I can parrot the rules, but when it comes to putting the rules into practice, I just fumble!

Soumis par mazumder uttom le lun 23/04/2018 - 06:06

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nice and thank you. but if test organinzed by sentence that will be more helpful for us.

Soumis par Shahid le ven 13/04/2018 - 15:22

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A Foolish Stag or The Foolish Stag...which is correct and why?

Hello Shahid,

If this refers to the name of a pub then The Foolish Stag would be correct. Names of pubs in the UK generally use the definite article (The Dog and Duck, The Garret, The Duke of York etc).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par amrita_enakshi le mar 10/04/2018 - 12:59

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Hello sir, in the following sentence should it be a plural noun or singular after the determiner any ? •We should wash our hands and feet to avoid any (infections / infection). As per my understanding in this sentence singular 'infection' seems correct. Sir am I right?

Soumis par Peter M. le mer 11/04/2018 - 07:20

En réponse à par amrita_enakshi

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Hello amrita_enakshi,

With countable nouns we use the plural form after 'any', and with uncountable nouns we use the singular. 'Infection' can be used as a countable or an uncountable noun and so both singular and plural are possible in this sentence.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Hosseinpour le mar 10/04/2018 - 04:37

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Hello dear Peter M, Thank you, thanks a lot.

Soumis par Hosseinpour le lun 09/04/2018 - 06:18

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Hello dear team, I really should get going. Does (get) here imply sort of delay? Thank you.

Hello Hosseinpour,

The meaning here is either 'I need to leave' or 'I need to start'. For example:

Oh dear, is that the time? It's really late - I should get going. [= I should leave]

I've got a lot of work to do today. I'd better get going. [= I need to start]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par cbenglish le ven 06/04/2018 - 05:04

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Dear Sirs, I wrote the following sentence: "At the theoretical level, I aim to forge a middle way between two popular approaches." But I was confused about the phrase "at the theoretical level." Should or can I say "at theoretical level" with zero article or "at a theoretical level" with an indefinite article? Are all the forms acceptable or have they different meanings? Many thanks as always.

Hello cbenglish,

The most common option here is 'a but 'the' is also possible and I don't think there is any difference in meaning. The zero article is incorrect here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Many thanks sir. Is it possible for you to give a quick response regarding why zero article is not possible? Is it because it's a fixed phrase? I feel that zero article is possible since the term level sounds like an abstract noun. I know I am wrong but can't figure out how to think about it correctly.

Hello cbenglish,

While there are similar phrases with others than words than level, there is no real consistency in how articles are used with them. For example, we can say in the theoretical realm but not in a theoretical realm  in this kind of context. Thus, I would say that this is best treated as an expression to be memorised rather than the expression of a grammatical rule.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par freemeu le ven 06/04/2018 - 00:05

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Help please, I'm confused. According to Cambridge dictionary we don't use the article THE when referring to activities in the building. So why do we use the article THE in the second sentence but not in the first sentence? 1) He's at school (for teacher or student) 2) He's at the hospital (for doctor or patient)

Hello freemeu,

We have several options here:

He's at school = he's a pupil

He's at the school / He's in the school = he's visiting it (in = inside the building; at = more general)

 

He's in hospital = he's a patient

He's at the hospital / He's in the hospital = he's visiting it (in = inside the building; at = more general)

 

Please posts questions once only. Posting the same question more than once only slows the process down as we have to delete the additional examples.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you! But if someone is in there doing what the building is meant for, then we omit the article THE as in: He's in bed sleeping and He's in the bed watching TV.! For example we say The pastor is at church. The Student is at school. In both sentence we omitted THE to show that they are there to do the activity the building is meant for(student to learn and pastor to preach the gospel). Here is my question: The doctor is at the hospital The guard is at the prison In these two sentences why don't we omit the article THE to show that the doctor is there to do the activity the building is meant for (to treat the patients).

Hello freemeu,

There are many examples which follow the rule you quote but it is not completely consistent. For example, we say a patient is in hospital but we say a doctor is in (or at) the hospital. Similarly, we say that a criminal is in prison but we say a guard is in (or at) the prison.

The reason for the inconsistency is simply convention. This is how the language has developed through use over many years. It's unfortunate but English is hardly unique in having exceptions to some of its grammatical and lexical rules!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par amol le jeu 29/03/2018 - 06:15

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Hello, Can we use "a/an" before a noun showing relation. For e.g Catherine has_____ in London. Can we say "an" if I want to say she have 1 aunt.

Soumis par Peter M. le jeu 29/03/2018 - 08:49

En réponse à par amol

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Hello amol,

The indefinite article is used before non-specified countable nouns. Nouns describing relations are no different from any other nouns in this regard. Thus we would say 'an aunt' in your example if it is the first time we have mentioned her. Once we know which aunt is being referred to then we would say 'the aunt'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par amol le jeu 29/03/2018 - 06:09

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Hello, Can we use any article before the word showing nationality? e.g John is ______Spanish. I think, in the above example, the word "Spanish" is used as an adjective, so no article is required. I am confused. :-* Regards

Soumis par Peter M. le jeu 29/03/2018 - 08:47

En réponse à par amol

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Hello amol,

Articles are used before nouns so when an adjective is used without a noun no article is needed. This we would not use an article in your example.

It is possible to use the definite article before certain adjectives to describe a group: the rich, the poor, the Spanish, the English, the sick, the healthy, the old, the young etc.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par amol le jeu 29/03/2018 - 05:56

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Hello, What article do we use before "hotel" If I want to say, They stayed in ______ hotel.

Soumis par Kirk le jeu 29/03/2018 - 06:02

En réponse à par amol

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Hi amol,

Both 'a' and 'the' are possible here and I'm afraid it's not possible to answer your question without knowing what the speaker means. Please see our Articles 1, Articles 2, and our indefinite and definite article pages for more information about what they mean and how they are used.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Sad le jeu 22/03/2018 - 05:08

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Can an article be added before an adjective? 'Titanic had an advanced safety features' Is it correct to add 'an' here? Please explain in details. Thanks

Hello Sad,

Articles are a part of the noun phrase and are connected to the noun. The adjective does not change this. However, we do not use 'a' or 'an' with plural verbs, so that is a mistake in your sentence ('features' is a plural noun). You could say:

The Titanic had advanced safety features. [more than one]

The Titanic had an advanced safety feature. [one]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for replying. I am confused. I thought any word which starts with a vowel must have 'an' before it. So 'advanced' here must have 'an' before it. What you wrote means that the article is related to the word 'feature' and not related to 'advanced' as an adjective. If it is related to 'feature' then what is the use of putting 'an' here since 'feature' cones in the end of the sentence? Please explain in details so it can be clear for me. Thanks

Hello Sad,

'a' and 'an' are the same indefinite article. The only difference is that 'an' is used before words that begin with a vowel sound (not with a vowel, but a vowel sound). This is a purely phonological change -- in other words, grammatically, 'a' and 'an' are the same word; we only say 'an' instead of 'a' because it's easier to pronounce due to the vowel sound that follows it. This is somewhat similar to changing 'y' to 'e' in Spanish -- 'padres y hijos' is not correct, instead it is 'padres e hijos' -- though grammatically 'y' is a conjunction, not a determiner. But 'y' changes to 'e' based on the first sound in the word after it, not based on grammar -- this is just like how 'a' changes to 'an' based on the first sound in the word after it, not based on grammar.

Articles are used in a noun phrase, i.e. they go with a noun (e.g. a safety feature). Sometimes there is an adjective between the article and the noun (e.g. an advanced safety feature), but the meaning of the article is the same and it modifies (tell us about) the noun, not the adjective.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Plus one more thing. 'An English language teacher' Using 'an' here, considered correct or not? Although it is referred to 'teacher' which does not take 'an' Please clarify Thanks

Hi Sad,

'an English teacher' is correct. My response below should hopefully help you understand this. If not, please see this page.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Deniseko le mer 21/03/2018 - 16:37

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Dear all, if the first word the name of a person or a place, then we do not use "the" with namse like these, for examples: Victoria Station, Edinburg Castle, Buckingham Palace but we use "the" when say The Eiffel Tower - why?