Grammar-QuizzesNoun PhrasesDeterminers › Determiner / Determiner Phrase

Determiner / Determiner Phrase

Recognize a variety of noun markers

Friends calling
 

Determined vs. Bare Nouns

SINGULAR NOUNS

All singular nouns require some kind of marker.  A noun phrase with a marker is called a determined noun phrase. bird – noun (N) ; a bird – noun phrase (NP)

DETERMINED  (MARKED)

A friend called. / *Friend called.    (determined NP)

A hair is on your sweater.  (determined count noun)

 

This / that friend called.

These / those hairs on your sweater are blond.

PLURAL & MASS NOUNS

Plural count nouns do not require but can take a determinative marker.  A noun phrase without a marker is called a bare noun phrase.  Noncount (mass) nouns

BARE  (UNMARKED)

Friends called. (bare count noun)

Hair makes a guy look young.  (bare noncount noun) 

DETERMINED (OPTIONAL MARKERS)

These / those / some / three friends called. 

Some hair makes a guy look young. (mininal amount)

 

*not used.

determiner –  a function in the structure of a sentence

determinative – a category of words 

 

 

 

 

Determiners List

Definite / Indefinite

Friends calling

 

 

 

Basic Markers – adding a specification of "definiteness"

MARKER NAME FUNCTION NOUN PHRASE
IDENTIFIERS      

  1.  the, a

articles

definite / indefinite

I called a friend.   We'll ask the friend (that you called).

  2. this, that, these, those 

demonstratives

definite; near / far; singular / plural

Ask this friend. / Go and ask that friend.  He was calling all night. This angered them.

  3. my, his, boy's

possessive subject determinatives

definite

My friend is here.  My brother's friend is here.  California's history…
 

QUANTIFIERS      

  4. all, both 

universal determinatives

definite; whole quantity

All friends want loyalty.  All your friends called back. 
Both parents called back

  5. each, every

distributive determinatives

definite / indefinite

Each friend called back. (definite group) / Every friend wants loyalty. (indefinite)

  6. some, any

existential determinatives

indefinite; a quantity exists; quantity in part

Some friends called back. / Did any friends called back?

  7. either, neither

disjunctive determinatives

indefinite; alternative (not sure)

Either friend will call back. / Either of my friends will call back.

  8. no (not)

negative determiner

indefinite

Not one friend called back. / Not all friends call back.

  9. another

alternative-additive determiner

indefinite

Another friend called back./ Another of my friends called back.

10. a little, a few, several…

positive paucal / determinatives

indefinite

Few/ A few friends called back.

11. many, much, few, little

degree determinatives multal

indefinite

Did many friends called back?

12. enough, sufficient

sufficiency determinatives

indefinite

We have enough food. /  We have sufficient food.  

OTHERS      

13. one, two, three

cardinal numerals

indefinite; quantitative

Two friends called back.

14. which, what, whichever, whatever

interrogative and relative determinatives

indefinite

You can have whatever color you want.  You want which size?  I'll tell you what time we're leaving.   Take which umbrella you prefer.

15. we, you  (us)

personal demonstrative

definite; personal

We kids want to leave. / You people should leave.  (BUT NOT:  "They people should leave" or "He man should leave")

16. such, what

intensifiers and exclamations

indefinite

Such friends are hard to find. / What friends you have!  

17. over, under, close to, up to, in excess of

limiting a numerical amount or area

indefinite

Around twenty thousand people were there.  / We spent up to thirthy minutes in line.  Just under the doormat is the place we hide the key. Use the above link to advance to the next page.

Determiners are within the category of Adjectivse; they are "limiting adjectives" as opposed to "descriptive adjectives".

(Huddleston "Adjectives vs. determinatives" 6 §2.4.4)  (Huddleston "The determiner function" 5.4) (Swan 154)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Determiner Phrases

Degrees and approximations

 

 

Modifiers to a determiner vs. Modifiers to a noun

DETERMINER PHRASE MODIFIERS NOUN

In a determiner phrase, a word— often a negative (not), or an adverb expressing intensity (very), degree of completeness (nearly), or estimation (approximately)—modifies the determiner.  Together, they modify a noun.

DETERMINATIVE PHRASE NOUN
NEGAVTIVE ADV + QUANTIFIER NOUN

modifies word to right

not many

not much

not all

not enough

not every

 

cities

time

people

people

city

DETERMINATIVE PHRASE NOUN PHRASE
ADV INTENSIFIER + QUAN NOUN

so many

so little

very few

too many

too much

cities were crowded.

time

cities

cities

time

DETERMINATIVE PHRASE NOUN PHRASE
ADV COMPLETENESS + QUAN NOUN

not enough

almost all

nearly every

just enough

practically any

exactly sufficient

time

cities

city

time

time

amount

DETERMINATIVE PHRASE NOUN PHRASE
ADV / PREP ESTIMATION + NUMBER NOUN

about fifty / over fifty / under fifty

approximately fivfiftye / roughly fifty

at least fifty / at most fifty

exactly fifty / some fifty

cities

cities

cities

pounds

ADVERB MODIFIES NOUN PHRASE

A similar but different situation exists when an adverb or quantifier modifies a noun phrase (the determiner is with the noun).                                                                                                                                                                        

MODIFIER NOUN PHRASE
NEGATIVE ADV DET + (ADJ) + N + (PP)

modifies phrase to right

not

not

not

not

 

 

a city

a single minute

a one  (det + pronoun)

a single person in the room

MODIFIER NOUN PHRASE
ADV INTENSIFIER N + PP

So

Very

Too

 

 

many of the cities

few of the people

much of the trip

MODIFIER NOUN PHRASE
ADV NEG / COMPLETENESS DET + N  / N + PP

not

all

almost

nearly

 

 

a single person

the major cities

all of that trip

none of those flights

MODIFIER NOUN PHRASE
QUANTIFIER DET + (ADJ) + N

all¹

half

almost

 

the time

the time

the entire group

 

 

¹The preposition of is omitted from some quantifiers with prepositional phrases. See Fractional Quantities.

 

 

 

 

 

Predeterminer Modifiers

Word order exceptions

 

 

Determiner before modifier vs. modifier before determiner

DETERMINER BEFORE MODIFIER

In most cases, the article is placed before the modifier(s) of a noun.   Noun Phrase = [Det + Adj + Noun] 

He is [a very good friend].

 

I have never had a very good friend like him.

 

 

MODIFIER BEFORE DETERMINER

However, a few modifiers are placed before the article, for example, such, so, how, as, this, that, what.  Noun Phrase = [Such Det + Adj + Noun]

He is [such a good friend].

What a good friend.

He is so good a friend.

How good a friend is he?

I have never had such a good friend as this one. (comparison)

He is such a good friend that we spend hours together. (cause-effect)

No such friend ever existed before. (article omitted with two modifiers)

One such friend helped me find a job. (article omitted with two modifiers)

Nothing is too big a favor.

I've never had this good a friend before.

 

(Huddleston "Predeterminer AdjPs" 6 §3.3) (Merriam-Webster 879-881)

Also see How / What.

 

 

 

 

Markers for Time (Temporal Markers)

Last, This & Next

 

 

Markers for time (temporal markers)

LAST THIS NEXT

Words for an earlier time (week) or calendar date (Tuesday, May) are commonly marked with  "last" or "yesterday" for periods within the last day.

Words for a current time (week) or calendar date (Tuesday, May) are commonly marked with  "this".

Words for a later time (week) or calendar date (Tuesday, May) are commonly marked with  "next"  or "tomorrow" for periods within the coming day.

last week  (month, year, decade, century)

this week

next week (month, year, decade, century)

last Tuesday

this Tuesday

next Tuesday

yesterday morning ("the other day")

this morning

tomorrow morning ("on the morrow")

last night

tonight

tomorrow night

tomorrow – c.1275, to morewe, from O.E. to morgenne "on (the) morrow," from to "at, on" (see to) + morgenne, dative of morgen "morning." Written as two words until 16c., then as to-morrow until early 20c.
yesterday – O.E. geostran dæg, from dæg "day" + geostran "yesterday," from P.Gmc. *gestra- (cf. O.H.G. gestaron, Ger. gestern "yesterday," O.N. gær "tomorrow, yesterday," Goth. gistradagis "tomorrow"), originally "the other day" (reckoned from "today," either backward or forward), from PIE *ghes

 

 

 

 

 

Determiners

Singular and Plural Agreement

blueberries

 

 
SINGULAR

Some determiners (a, each, one, every) mark only singlar count nouns. Others (this, that, my, the, such) can mark both singular count nouns and noncount nouns.       

ARTICLES—A 

I'd like a blueberry.

I won't pick the green blueberry.

DEMONSTRATIVES

This blueberry is ready to eat.

That blueberry is still green.

SINGULAR QUANTIFIER

Each blueberry is delicious.

One blueberry is not enough.

POSSESSIVES

My blueberry is delicious. (see next section)

 

OTHER

Take whichever blueberry you want.  Wh-ever Determiner

What color should a blueberry be?

I've never tasted such flavor in a berry before.

PLURAL

Determiners these and those mark plural count nouns, and  the, some, any, most and all mark plural count or nouncount nouns. See the links in each section for details.

ARTICLES—THE

I'd like some blueberries.

I'll pick the ripe blueberries.

DEMONSTRATIVES

These blueberries are ready to eat.

Those blueberries are still green.

PLURAL QUANTIFIERS

Some blueberries are delicious.

Most blueberries are delicious.

POSSESSIVES

My blueberries are delicious. (see next section)

 

OTHER

Take whathever blueberries (groups) you want.

What colors can berries be?

I've never tasted such berries before. (like these)

 

 

 

 
SINGULAR POSSESSIVE

A singular determiner is used with a singular possessive noun.  The determiner and the possessive combine to form a determiner for the second noun.

SINGULAR POSSESSIVE + SINGULAR NOUN

This computer's network is down.

Its network is down.

My computer's network is down.

My network is down.

1 computer — 1 network   

SINGULAR POSSESSIVE + PLURAL NOUN

This computer's networks are down. 

Its networks are down.

My computer's networks are down.

My networks are down.

1 computer — several networks

PLURAL POSSESSIVE

A plural determiner is used with a plural possessive noun.  The determiner and the possessive combine to form a determiner for the second noun.

PLURAL POSSESSIVE + SINGULAR NOUN

These computers' network is down.

Their network is down.

My computers' network is down.

My network is down.

several computers — 1 network

PLURAL POSSESSIVE + PLURAL NOUN

These computers' networks are down (off). 

Their networks are down.

My computers' networks are down.  /

My networks are down.

several computers — several networks..

 

network is down — a system failure; off, not working

See Possessives.

 

 

 

 

 

Exceptions

Nouns w/o Determiners & Determiners w/o Nouns

 

 

Exceptions

NOUNS WITHOUT DETERMINERS

Some singular nouns do not occur with a kind of determiner.

He became president, treasurer, secretary, CEO.  (a title)

He went home¹, to school, to work.  (a place)

He is in hospital. (ENG-Br "receiving treatment")

He ate breakfast, lunch, dinner (He ate a snack.)  (a meal)

We'll have to manage day by day,  minute by minute.  (a rate)

Education is the key to success.  (non-count nouns)

We went to Lake Victoria, Bryce Canyon, Mount Kilimanjaro, Alcatraz Island

 The Queen went from Windsor Castle to Buckingham Palace

DETERMINERS WITHOUT NOUNS

Other determiners can occur alone when the noun is understood from the context.

Do you want some cookies?  I don't want any.   I want a few.

Which do you want?   This is good.

Many fought, but few survived.

All are invited. All are welcome.

None shall escape.  (no + one)

We saw others that we liked.

 

 

 

¹ home (P/Adv) expresses movement in a direction, "homeward"; home (N) the place in which one's domestic affections are centered.  See Adverbs for Place, Prepositions for Place, Pop-Q "Home".

Related pages: some geographical features, buildings & landmarks

 

 

 

 

 

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Grammar Notes (Advanced)

Traditional and Linguistic Descriptions

 

 

Traditional Grammar and Linguistic Description

TRADITIONAL DESCRIPTION

In traditional grammar, articles, demonstratives and quantifiers occur before some singluar and plural nouns. (A singular count noun requires an article or marker of some type. (Azar 8-6)

SENTENCE PARSING—REED KELLOGG SYSTEM

 

parse diagram

In ESL description, the determiner indicates that the noun is a specific one, an unspecific one, one both the speaker and listener share knowledge about, one of a group, all in general, reference to a classification, and so on. See Articles.

LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

In linguistic analysis, there are two thoughts. One description includes the determiner as part of the noun phrase, a dependent of the Head, the noun. (Huddleston 5.4)

TREE DIAGRAM

 

determiner is part of noun phrase

Another description includes the noun phrase within the determined phrase. That is the determiner is the head of the phrase and the noun phrase is a dependent of the determiner. "Determiners 'anchor' noun phrases in pragmatic space while Inflection 'anchors' verb phrases in time and reality." (Payne 8.2)
noun phrase is part of determinative phrase

 

 

References

  • Azar, Betty Schrampfer, and Stacy A. Hagen. Understanding and Using English Grammar. 4th ed., Pearson Education, 2009.
  • Huddleston, Rodney D., and Geoffrey K. Pullum. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge UP, 2002.
  • Payne, Thomas Edward. Understanding English Grammar: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge UP, 2011.
  • Swan, Michael. Practical English Usage. 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2005.

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

Camping Trip

campsite
 

 

Read for Errors

We are going on a trip next week to Lake Shasta. We'll take a tent, our sleeping bags and map. We can buy food and water when we get to the lake. hen we arrive, we'll spend couple hours putting our camp together.  We have to make sure that we have enough wood to make a fire.

We can swim, hike, or fish – whichever activity we like. This lake is known for good fishing. With such good fishing, we won't be hungry campers. We'll have good time and return on Sunday night. It's always wonderful feeling to return home and take shower.

camp (N) — a temporary location to spend the night, cook over a fire (camping)

hike (V) — take a long walk

tenttent (N) — a temporary shelter made of cloth 

 

 

Correct or Incorrect?

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 1-10" button.

 

1.
We are going on a trip next week to Lake Shasta.

   

2.
We'll take a tent, our sleeping bags and map.

   

3.
We can buy food and water when we get to the lake.

   

4.
When we arrive, we'll spend couple hours putting our camp together.

   

5.
We have to make sure that we have enough wood to make a fire.

   

6.
We can swim, hike, or fish – whichever activity we like.

   

7.
This lake is known for good fishing

   

8.
With such good fishing, we won't be hungry campers.

   

9.
We'll have good time and return on Sunday night.

   

10.
It's always wonderful feeling to return home and take shower.

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

Saturday Postal Service

mailbox
 

 

Complete the sentence with a determiner if needed.

  1. Select the option that best completes the sentence
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 11- 20" button.

 

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.
has agreed to end

18.

19.

20.