The role of determiners in the English language is important. Determiners specify the meaning of the sentences creating a more distinct explanation. We will know about determiners and the purpose of the same in this tutorial.

What is a Determiner?

A determiner precedes a noun or noun group to indicate a particular type, including number, quantity, position and so on. It helps to specify the meaning of the sentence. For example, a, an, this, that, first, my are determiners.

Primary Classifications of Determiners

There are primarily two types of determiners in the English language. These are −

General Determiner

A general determiner cannot specify but rather indicates generalisation—examples: many, a, an, what, other etc.

Specific Determiner

Unlike a general determiner, a specific determiner indicates the particularisation of nouns—examples: my, his, her, your, the etc.

Apart from these, we can enlist the significant determiners −

  • Possessives

  • Ordinals and cardinals

  • Quantifiers

  • Articles

  • Distributives

  • Predeterminers.

Determiners: Types and Uses in Sentences

Here we are going to understand the types of determiners and their uses. These determiners are found and known as types of determiners in the English language. It is important to learn about the uses of determiners to understand the meaning of sentences. Determiners in sentences are in bold words.

Possessive Determiners

Possessive determiners are used to denote who owns or possesses. Possessive adjectives function as positive determiners. The possessive determiner sits at the beginning of the sentence or before the noun to whom it belongs.

Examples of possessive adjectives −

  • My

  • Our

  • His

  • Her

  • Its

  • Their

  • Your

Examples in sentences −

  • This is my car.

  • I have lost your pen.

Examples of possessive pronouns that work as determiners:

  • Mine

  • Ours

  • Hers

  • Theirs

  • Yours

  • His

Possessive pronouns replace the nouns in sentences.


  • My mom has a necklace. See! My sister is wearing hers.

  • Ordinal and Cardinal Determiners: Cardinal determiners denote the quantity of anything. For example, one (1), two (2), Sixty-five (65), Eighty-nine (89), etc.

Examples in sentences −

  • I have one rupee.

  • She has four sisters.

  • January has thirty-one days.

Ordinal determiners express the order or position of anything.

For example, First (1st), Second (2nd), twenty third (23rd), one hundred and first (101st) and so on.

Examples in sentences −

  • He stood second (2nd) in the competition.

  • I am visiting Puri for the third (3rd) time.


Quantifiers work as determiners to express the quantity. If you question 'how many' or 'how much, then quantifiers are the answers in sentences. Some quantifiers are used with countable nouns, and some are used with uncountable nouns. And some quantifiers are used with both kinds of nouns. The quantifier precedes the noun phrase to denote it in a sentence.

Examples are: some, every, a few, no, a little, all, much, enough, any, each, every, either, neither, most, more, less, several and so on.

Examples in sentences −

  • I have some apples in the basket. (And also) I have some money in my wallet. (Uses of 'some' with countable and uncountable nouns).

  • I want all the pens. (And also) I want all the coffee now. (Uses of 'all' with countable and uncountable nouns).

  • We have enough eggs for breakfast.

  • He has passed several entrances.

Articles as Determiners

There are two types of article determiners, e.g. definite article determiner (the) and indefinite article determiners (a and an). Such articles specify the nouns that are indicated by the speaker or subject. Indefinite article definers always refer to singular nouns. Indefinite article determiner 'an' precedes a word beginning with a vowel sound. And the words that start with a consonant sound take 'a' as an indefinite article determiner. Definite article determiner 'the' can refer to singular and plural nouns.

Examples in sentences −

  • He needs an umbrella.

  • Jay is a teacher.

  • I have watched the movie you are talking about.

  • Now we have the tickets for the flight to Mumbai.

Distributive Determiners

Distributive determiners refer to a group or class or every individual in the group or class. Such determiners provide information and specific details about the words they indicate. Examples: each, every, either, neither, half etc.

Examples in sentences −

  • Each of the boys participated in the sports.

  • Half of his money was lost in gambling.

  • Every child was playing in the park.


Predeterminers determine the words in sentences sitting before a combination of indefinite article+adjective+noun. For example, what, such, quite, rather etc.

Examples in sentences −

  • What a beautiful day!

  • It is quite a costly watch.

  • She is such a kind woman.

  • It is rather a short distance.


We have learnt about the uses and types of determiners in this tutorial. It will help to understand the functions of determiners in sentences.


Q1. What is the function of the determiner?

Ans. The function of the determiner in a sentence is to determine nouns, noun phrases and words. It focuses on the number, position, quantity and many other features. Examples: my, one, second, his, such and so on.

Q2. What is a possessive determiner?

Ans. A possessive determiner refers to the word that possesses or owns something. Examples −

  • This is her bicycle. (bicycle belongs to 'her')

  • I have brought your book. (book belongs to 'your' means 'you')

    • State the difference between ordinals and cardinals.

Ordinals state the position, whereas cardinals denote the numbers in sentences. This is the main difference between these two. Examples −

  • I have one laptop. (Cardinal determiner)

  • He was the first person who helped that orphan. (Ordinal determiner).

Q3. How does an indefinite article determiner determine a word in a sentence?

Ans. An indefinite article determiner (a or an) determines a word in sentences by preceding it. Such determiners precede singular nouns or words. Example: I have got a gift.

Q4. What is a quantifier?

Ans. A quantifier denotes the quantity and indicates an answer to the question 'how many' or 'how much. Example: A few of them came with me. ('a few' is the answer to 'how many').

Q5. How does a definite article determiner work in a sentence?

Ans. A definite article works as a determiner in a sentence. It refers to the word that the subject or speaker means to indicate specifically. Example: I went to the best salon for a haircut.

Updated on: 25-Apr-2023


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