May 21, 2015

How Do You Use Determiners and Quantifiers?

3 minute read

Determiners and quantifiers might sound like complex things – but chances are, you’re probably already using them without realising it!

They’re both specific pieces of grammar that give us more information about the noun in a sentence. Let’s take a closer look at what they are – and how you can use them!

What is a determiner?

A determiner is a word that comes before a noun, and tell you whether the noun is specific or general. So what’s the difference between the two?

Specific determiners

Specific determiners are, well, specific! They show that the noun that follows is a specific and particular thing – something that can be distinguished from another one like it. So when you use one of these, you know exactly which object you are referring to.

Let’s take a closer look with some examples. Some specific determiners include:

-       the

-       this

-       that

-       my

-       your

-       her and his

This is how you would use them in a sentence:

“He didn’t eat the cake I bought for him.”

“This is the train we have to catch.”

“That is the first proper question you’ve asked me.”

“My red coat is missing.”

In all of these examples, the noun that follows the determiner is very particular and you would know which one you are talking about.

General determiners

In contrast to specific determiners, general determiners refer to a noun in general and unspecific terms. This means that they are not describing any particular object in that noun category, but any of them.

Some examples of general determiners include:

-       a

-       an

-       other

-       another

-       any

-       what

And this is how you’d use them in a sentence:

“I bought a new car.”

“You can choose from some other flavours.”

“She took another book.”

In these examples, it is not clear what specific item you are referring to. In the example “she took another book”, although you know that the sentence refers to a book, you cannot tell if it is a particular book or not.

What is a quantifier?

Quantifiers are also words that come before a noun, but they give a different type of information. They describe the quantity of an item – how much or how many there are of something.

Like determiners, quantifiers can vary depending on two different types of nouns too. In this case, it depends on whether you are referring to a count noun, or a non-count noun. So what’s the difference between the two of these?

Count nouns are nouns that can be counted, such as tables, apples, books and cars. Non-count nouns are nouns that you cannot count – such as love, money, faith and rice.

While you can have five apples, you cannot have five rice!

There are different quantifiers for count and non-count nouns.

Quantifiers for count nouns include:

-       Many

-       Several

-       Few

-       A number of

While for non-count nouns, they include:

-       much

-       a little

-       a bit

And some can be used for both!

-       All

-       Enough

-       Some

-       A lot of

-       Any

Let’s take a look at some examples!

“There were many tables at the wedding.”

“She only ate a little rice.”

“There is not enough love in the world.”

“You can take some apples with you.”

Your turn

Quantifiers and determiners are both important parts of the English language, and are something you will be using all the time! So to make sure you understand how to use them correctly, make sure you get in lots of practice. Try reading as much as possible, and look for examples!