What Is a Determiner? (with Examples)
What Is a Determiner?A determiner is a type of adjective. A determiner always precedes a noun. The function of a determiner is to modify a noun to indicate quantity, possession, specificity, or definiteness.
Examples of Determiners Indicating Quantity
- He has four dogs.
- He has many dogs.
- He has no dogs.
Examples of Determiners Indicating Possession
- Beware of his dogs.
- Beware of our dogs.
Examples of Determiners Indicating Specificity
- I love this dog.
- I love those dogs.
Examples of Determiners Indicating Definiteness
- I need a dog.
- I need the dog.
The Difference between Normal Adjectives and DeterminersThe grammar world is divided on whether determiners are classified as adjectives. Here at Grammar Monster, we teach that a determiner is a type of adjective. However, it's worth knowing that some grammarians consider determiners the ninth part of speech. (NB: The eight parts of speech are adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, interjections, nouns, prepositions, pronouns, and verbs.)
Listed below are the differences between normal adjectives and determiners (shaded):
(1) Unlike a normal adjective, a determiner cannot have a comparative form or a superlative form.
- Happier dog (Happier is the comparative form of happy.)
- Happiest dog (Happiest is the superlative form of happy.)
- His dog
- A dog
- That dog (There are no comparative forms or superlative forms of determiners.)
- I have a happy dog.
- I have a dog
- I have happy dog. (Often a determiner cannot be removed.)
- They are happy dogs. (A normal adjective (here, happy) does not refer back to another noun.)
- Do you know Jane? These are her dogs. (Often a determiner refers back to another noun. In this example, her refers back to Jane.)
- Please walk the dogs. (Often a determiner refers back to something previously specified. In this example, the denotes some specific dogs.)