A complete noun consists of a single-word noun or a noun and its modifiers; this may also be referred to as a "noun group."
The kinds of words that "belong to" a noun are usually adjectives and determiners.
In this example, the underlined words are noun groups:
John always uses his best German when speaking to his clients on the telephone.
|Determiners are used in front of nouns to indicate whether you are referring to something specific or something of a particular type. In other words determiners are noun-modifiers that express the reference of a noun or noun-phrase in the context. This function is performed by determiners which are: articles, demonstratives, possessive determiners or quantifiers
Determiners are different from adjectives
There are a number of key differences between determiners and adjectives.
|1. In English, articles, demonstratives, and possessive determiners cannot co-occur in the same phrase, while
any number of adjectives are typically allowed.
A big green English book
The his book (note however that Italian allows exactly this construction - il suo libro)
|2. Most determiners cannot occur alone in predicative complement position; most adjectives can:
He is happy.
He is the.
|3. Most determiners are not gradable, while adjectives typically are.
happy, happier, happiest
(However in colloquial usage an English speaker might say for emphasis "This is very much my car you are trying to force open.
4. Some determiners have corresponding pronouns: each, this, all, some while adjectives don't.
Each likes something different to eat.
All came to the meeting.
5. Adjectives can modify singular or plural nouns, while some determiners can only modify one or the other.
a big man / big men
many cakes / much cake
6. Adjectives are never obligatory, while determiners often are.
|Key differences between determiners and pronouns
1. Determiners are different from pronouns in that a determiner is always followed by a noun except for
each/each, all/all, some/some which can often occur without a noun.
|2. It is relatively common for a language to distinguish between demonstrative determiners and
A demonstrative determiner modifies a noun:
This apple is good.
I like those houses.
A demonstrative pronoun stands on its own, replacing rather than modifying a noun:
This is good.
I like those.
|3. Personal pronouns ( I , you , he , etc.) and possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his, etc.) cannot be
4. Pronouns may occur in tag questions. Determiners can't.
This is delicious, isn't it?
This is delicious, isn't this?
|5. In phrasal verbs, pronouns must appear between the verb and particle. Determiners may occur after the
pick it up
pick up it
pick this up
pick up this
6. Pronouns all have distinct genitive forms. Determiners don't.
This is mine/yours/theirs.
This is all's.
|The definite and indefinite articles a/an/the are all determiners.
Specific determiners are used in the singular and the plural when people know exactly which thing(s) or person/people they are talking about.
Specific determiners are:
the definite article : the
demonstratives : this, that, these, those
Possessive adjectives : my, your, his, her, its, our, their
"The dog barked all night at the moon."
"These oranges are sour."
"Their bus was late."
|General determiners are used to talk about people or things without saying exactly who or what they are.
General determiners are:
the indefinite articles : a, an
|Like articles, quantifiers are words that precede and modify nouns. They tell us how many or how much. Selecting the correct quantifier depends on your understanding the distinction between Count and Non-Count Nouns.
The following quantifiers will work with count nouns:
a few trees
a couple of trees
none of the trees
|The following quantifiers will work with non-count nouns:
not much dancing
a little dancing
a bit of dancing
a good deal of dancing
a great deal of dancing
|The following quantifiers will work with both count and non-count nouns:
all of the trees/dancing
most of the trees/dancing
a lot of trees/dancing
lots of trees/dancing
plenty of trees/dancing
a lack of trees/dancing
|In formal academic writing, it is usually better to use many and much rather than phrases such as a lot of, lots of and plenty of.|
|There is an important difference between "a little" and "little" (used with non-count words) and between
"a few" and "few" (used with count words).
If I say that George has a little experience in management that means that although George is no great expert he does have some experience and that experience might well be enough for our purposes.
If I say that George has little experience in management that means that he doesn't have enough experience.
If I say that Charlie owns a few books on American architecture that means that he has some books not a lot of books, but probably enough for our purposes.
If I say that Charlie owns few books on American architecture, that means he doesn't have enough for our purposes and we'd better go to the library.
|Unless it is combined with of, the quantifier "much" is reserved for questions and negative statements:
Much of the snow has already melted.
How much snow fell yesterday?
|Note that the quantifier "most of the" must include the definite article the when it modifies a specific noun, whether it's a count or a non-count noun: "most of the instructors at this college have a doctorate"; "most of the water has evaporated."
With a general plural noun, however (when you are not referring to something specific), the "of the" is dropped:
Most colleges have their own admissions policy.
Most students apply to several colleges.
|An indefinite article is sometimes used in conjunction with the quantifier many, thus joining a plural quantifier with a singular noun (which then takes a singular verb):
Many a young man has fallen in love with her golden hair.
Many an apple has fallen by October.
|Whichever and Whatever are also quantifiers
Whichever dress you choose, you will look nice in it.
Whatever he says, dont take any notice.
|Either and Neither
Either and neither are used in sentences where there is a choice between two items.
Either can mean one or the other (of two) or both.
I've got cake and sandwiches, so you can have either. (One or the other)
The room has a window at either end. (Both)
Neither means not the first one and not the second one.
Neither of the men paid the bill.
|English determiners are:
Alternative-additive determiners: another, other, somebody else
Articles: a, an, the
Degree determiners: many, much, few, little
Demonstratives: this, that, these, those, which
Disjunctive determiners: either, neither
Distributive determiners: each, every
Elective determiners: any, either, whichever
Equative determiners: the same
Evaluative determiners: such
Exclamative determiners: what eyes!
Existential determiners: some, any
Interrogative and relative determiners: which, what, whichever, whatever
Negative determiners: no, neither
Personal determiners: we dancers, you children
Positive-multal determiners: a lot of, many, several
Positive-paucal determiners: a few, a little, some
Possessive determiners: my, your, our, etc.
Qualitative determiners: that, so
Quantifiers: all, few, many, several, some, every, each, any, no, etc.
Sufficiency determiners: enough, sufficient
Uniquitive determiners: the only
Universal determiners: all, both
|Possessor noun phrases can also be determiners rather than just modifiers as with Saxon genitive noun phrases in English:
Johns school is very expensive.
Marys new car has already been scratched.
|Perhaps the most common way to express quantity is to use a numeral.
Cardinal numbers are determiners: one, two, fifty, etc
Numerals and Determiners
Numerals are determiners when they appear before a noun.
In this position, cardinal numerals express quantity:
In the same position, ordinal numerals express sequence:
|The subclass of ordinals includes a set of words which are not directly related to numbers. These are called general ordinals, and they include last, latter, next, previous, and subsequent. These words also function as determiners:
|When they do not come before a noun, numerals are a subclass of nouns. And like nouns, they can take determiners:
the two of us
the first of many
They can even have numerals as determiners before them:
five twos are ten
In this example, twos is a plural noun and it has the determiner five before it.
Predeterminers occur before other determiners.
A predeterminer is a word that can stand before an article, a possessive pronoun, or another determiner, as all in all the flowers or both in both his children.
Predeterminers can also be intensifiers. Words like indeed, rather, and not really are examples of intensifiers. Heres an example:
The diamond John gave Mary was indeed a fake
The predeterminer indeed comes before the determiner a, which comes before the noun fake.
|This class of words includes:
Multipliers: double, twice, four times, six times etc.
Fractional expressions: two-thirds, one-quarter, two-fifths etc.
Words like: both, half , all etc.
Intensifiers: quite, rather, such, indeed, not really, and not really
|These predeterminers give extra information about the noun.
Multipliers precede plural count nouns:
This box holds four times the papers of the other boxes in the office.
This toaster is twice the cost of the one in the other shop
Multipliers precede mass nouns:
This dress costs twice the money I earn per month.
Multipliers precede singular nouns
This teapot costs half the price of the one in the other shop.
In fractional expressions, we have a similar construction, but here it can be replaced with "of" construction.
Charlie finished his homework in one-fourth [of] the time his brother took.
Two-fifths of the patients reported that half the medication was sufficient
A predeterminer can be an intensifier that tells you some extra information about the noun that comes after the determiner.
The diamond he bought was indeed a fake.
He suddenly turned up at the party, but it was not really a surprise.