What are determinants? Definition and examples (2023)

Determiners are words that come before nouns and indicate something about their quantity, definition, or possession. Another name for determinants isrestrictive adjectives; As the name suggests, determiners modify nouns through the subtraction process, not the addition process used with descriptive adjectives. In other words, descriptive adjectives add detail to our understanding of the nouns they modify, while determinants limit the noun's identity by introducing specificity.

Here we will see what is and what is not a determinant and how to use them correctly in writing.

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What is a determinant?

A determiner, also known as a qualifying adjective, is a word that comes before a noun and provides context to explain the number, definition, or possession of the noun. Here are some examples of determiners in sentences:

  • OwisedieleftourFavorite.
  • She boughtThreenoodle boxes.
  • I went to seeOFilmseveralmal.

7 types of determinants

There are several common types of determinants, including articles, demonstrative determiners (or demonstrative adjectives), interrogative determiners (interrogative adjectives), possessive determiners (possessive adjectives), and quantitative determinants and numbers.


AArticleis a determiner that precedes a noun or noun phrase and identifies it as specific or indefinite. ABOUTspecific articleIdie, i toindefinite articleThey areAmiA. The article may stand alone before the noun it modifies, or in combination with one or more descriptive adjectives.

  • OThe car was parked in frontdieAbandoned brick building.
  • works fromAThe cafe is a great option if you can order and find food or coffeeAnext tableADeparture.

2demonstrative determinants

Demonstrative determiners, also called demonstrative adjectives, tell you where a noun is placed in space or time. Demonstrative determinants areO,O,to be, Eto be.

  • OThe cat is the one I told you about.
  • let's goOrestaurant again.
  • Emto beFor days Enid wore bright colors.

If a group of demonstratives looks familiar, it's because they are the same words asDemonstrative pronounthat replace an already mentioned or suggested word or phrase. In fact, demonstratives are adjectival forms of demonstrative pronouns and also refer to something the listener or reader already knows or is clear from the context. They simply come before the noun and modify it instead of replacing it. Here are examples of the wordto be, is used as a demonstration marker.

  • We can't see the lake because of this.to betrees.

3distribution determinants

Distributive determinants refer to a group or individual parts within a group. Words likeAll,one,NO, EBothare determinants of the distribution.

  • Be sureBothThe children are going to bathe tonight.
  • AllThere is a napkin dispenser on the table in the cafeteria.

4interrogative determinants

Interrogative determiners limit the attributes of a noun by asking a direct or indirect question. Questionable determinants arewhose,Era, EWhich. As with demonstratives and pronouns, interrogatives are adjectival formsInterrogative pronouns. Here are three sentences using three question definitions:

  • WhoWere shoes left on the lawn?
  • EraIs it someone who does this?
  • Max thought aloudWhichThe first will be a taxi.

5possessive determinant

Possessive determiners, also called possessive adjectives, are:possessiveways toPersonal pronounsand can come before a noun:My,your,to be,Whether,That's it,our,Whether, Ewhose. They tell us something about having a noun or its relationship to another word in a sentence.

  • die personwhoseShoes left in the rain must be taken indoors.
  • Geraldo metto bePartners at an employee event.
  • Whereyourideas foryourWhere does the letter come from?

Possessive forms of nouns are sometimes also considered possessive determinants:

The team metGeraldoPartners at an employee event.

There are different schools of thought on whether possessive adjectives should be considered determinants; Some argue that they are descriptive and therefore should be classified as true adjectives.

6Quantification of determinants and numbers

Quantitatives say something about the nouns that come before them, group them together, or indicate how many there are. This includes words likemany,Some,Some,everyone,NO, Eseveral.

  • Mirin did not seemanyrecent movies.
  • I came to the pool to swimseveraldays of the last week.
  • IsSomeThings Xan likes more than mint chocolate ice cream.

Used as markersPayboth cardinal andordinal-, also restrict nouns and pronouns to specific sets:

Sima was late for classThreetimes this semester.

If there is one...roomTime can affect your Sim's rating.

7Relative determinants

Relative determiners, also called relative adjectives, indicate something about nouns in noun phrases that have relativesdependent clauses. The determinants are relativeEra,whatever it is,Which, Ewhatever it is. They are closely related toRelative pronouns. here are some examples:

  • Please sit downwhatever it isa place you like.
  • Jean will let us knowErathe day they arrive.

determinants vs. descriptive adjectives

As we have seen, determiners work like adjectives, modifying nouns and pronouns, but they are not as descriptive as words called "true" adjectives. There are a few other things you should know about how terms behave differently from descriptive adjectives that will help you use them correctly.

Location of markers

When a determiner and a descriptive adjective come before the same noun, the determiner always comes first:

BrokenThe dress is a festive choice.

redThe dress is a festive choice.

Hot, wet and all thatThe days are starting to tire me.

The hot and humid onesThe days are starting to tire me.

young coupleNowadays people listen to swing music.

few young peopleNowadays people listen to swing music.

Determinants in subjective complements

Unlike descriptive adjectives, determiners can rarely be used as part of athematic supplement. Consider the following two sentences: the first uses a simple descriptive adjective in the subject complement, and the second tries to replace the descriptive adjective with a distributive determiner (which doesn't make sense).

The vase is on the tableSchön.

The vase is on the tableone.

However, quantifier determinants can sometimes be used as part of a subject complement:

The flowers are in the gardenmanyand beautiful.

Determinants and comparative and superlative forms

Determiners are not descriptive, so comparative or superlative forms would generally be illogical for them. After all, one thing may be more specific than another, but nothing can be "five" or "whose" than something else. Here, too, quantitative determinants are a rare exception - the wordSomehas a comparative and superlative form, as in this example:

There wasnot a bit lessThere were more guests at the party than expected.

Frequently asked questions about the determinant

What is a determinant?

A determiner is a word that comes before a noun and indicates something about the number, definition, or possession of the noun. They are also called restrictive adjectives.

What are the types of determinants?

The types of determinants are article, demonstrative, distributive, interrogative, possessive, quantifier, and numerical and relative determinants.

What is the difference between determiners and adjectives?

Determiners are sometimes considered a type of adjective because they modify nouns and pronouns. But the way they modify nouns and pronouns is by specifying them, not describing them, so they are not considered "true" adjectives. They also follow different rules than descriptive adjectives regarding their position in a sentence and the forms they can take.


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