Verbal Ability - Determiners



Determiners give information about nouns. They say something specific about a noun when used with them. This function is usually performed by articles, demonstratives, possessive determiners, or quantifiers.

Important Tips

Determiners are always followed by a noun as they modify the noun, so subject pronouns like (I, you, he, they, we, etc.) and possessive pronouns like (mine, yours, his, hers, its, theirs, etc.) cannot be determiners, as they are never followed by nouns.

For Example

Determiners Possessives Subject Pronouns
The man is crying. This book is mine He is good.
This book is good. That house is his. She is absent.
Some guys are bad. This meal is yours. They are at home.
My book is missing. This car is theirs. They own this car.

Types of determiners


  • Definite article — the

  • Indefinite article — a/an (‘a’ is used before consonant sounds; ‘an’ is used before vowel sounds.)

For Example

  • Close the door, please.
  • I've got a friend in Canada.
  • I had an egg today.


There are four demonstrative determiners in English (this, that, these and those)

For Example

  • This is my camera.
  • Those horses are mine.
  • These books are good.
  • That tree is old.

Using Demonstratives with Singular and Plural Nouns

  • Use this to indicate a person or thing near you. For example − This book is good, this is yesterday’s newspaper.

  • Use that to indicate a person or thing far from you. For example − That desk belongs to Janhavi, that printer is old

  • Use these to indicate people or things near you. For example − These presentations are for the client, these students are toppers in the class.

  • Use those to indicate people or things far from you. For example − Those folders are confidential, those soccer players were great.

  • Use this, that, these, and those before nouns to identify and describe people and things.

    • This dress is my favorite.

    • That little boy in the photo is my niece.

    • These charts are useful.

    • Those documents are useless.

Important Tips

You can only use this and these as pronouns to introduce people. For example − This is Caveri, these are my friends.

Making questions out of Demonstratives

To indicate people, make questions using who is . . .?

  • Who is she?
  • Who is that guy?

To indicate things, ask questions using what is . . .?

  • What is that smell?
  • What is that thing on the table?

To ask about the price of something, ask questions using how much …?

  • How much for the bike?
  • How much did you pay for the dress?

Important Tips

Questions on identifying things that have this and that should be answered with it. If the questions are on identifying people, use pronouns as per

  • How much is this copier?

    It’s $100.

  • Who is that lady?

    She’s my boss.

Questions that have these and those should be answered with they.

  • Are these your reports?

    Yes, they are.

  • Who are those people?

    They are my friends.


Possessives are determiners that describe the ownership of nouns − my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their.

Possessive Nouns

Possessive nouns express ownership. For example − Rajat’s bag, Mukesh’s flat, Vineet’s questions, etc. The formula is to use (noun + ’s).

For Example

  • This bag belongs to Rajat.

    This is Rajat’s bag. (Here the noun, ‘Rajat’ has been added with ‘s)

When the possessive pronouns are plural words, the rules follow a different pattern. The formula is to use (Plural noun + s’).

For example

  • This hostel is for the boys.

    This is the boys’ hostel. (The plural noun ‘students’ added with s’)

Important Tips

Possessive determiners are different from possessive pronouns − mine, his, hers, yours, ours, their. Possessive pronouns can stand alone and are not followed by nouns. Possessive determiners, on the other hand, are followed by nouns.

  • This is my home. (‘My’ is a possessive determiner, and is followed by the noun ‘house’)

  • Is this book yours? (‘Yours’ is a possessive pronoun, so it stands alone and is not followed by a noun.)

Important Tips

The following table explains the respective usage of possessives as per usage −

Possessive Nouns I We You He She It They
Possessive Determiners My Our Your His Her Its Their
Possessive Pronouns Mine Ours Yours His Hers Its Theirs