Determiners: Types, Position, Examples, & Exercises


Last Updated:

In grammar, a determiner is a word that comes before a noun and helps us understand which noun we’re talking about or gives us information about the noun. It helps to determine or specify the noun’s meaning and shows things like quantity, possession, or whether it’s a specific or general noun. Think of determiners as little words that come before a noun and help answer questions like:

  • Which cat? (specificity)
  • How many cats? (quantity)
  • Whose cat? (possession)

Here are a few examples of determiners:

  • “The” cat (the specific cat)
  • “Three” cats (showing quantity)
  • “My” cat (showing possession)

Determiners can be divided into different types, such as articles (like “the” or “a”), demonstratives (like “this” or “that”), possessives (like “my” or “his”), quantifiers (like “some” or “many”), and more.

Determiners are important because they help us understand and communicate more precisely about the nouns in our sentences. By using the right determiner, we can be clearer about which noun we’re referring to and provide more information about it.

The post also includes:

Types of Determiners

Determiners can be divided into different types based on their functions. Let’s explore each type in simple terms:

1. Articles:

Articles are words that come before a noun and indicate whether the noun is specific or general.

“The” is called the definite article and is used when we are talking about a specific noun. For example, “The cat is on the roof.”

“A” and “an” are indefinite articles and are used when we are referring to a general noun or any one of a group. “A” is used before words that start with consonant sounds (e.g., “a dog”), and “an” is used before words that start with vowel sounds (e.g., “an apple”).

2. Demonstratives:

Demonstratives help us point out or indicate specific nouns in relation to the speaker.

“This” and “these” are used to indicate nouns that are close to the speaker. For example, “This book is interesting.”

“That” and “those” are used to indicate nouns that are farther away from the speaker. For example, “That car is red.”

3. Possessives:

Possessives show ownership or possession of a noun.

“My,” “your,” “his,” “her,” “its,” “our,” and “their” are examples of possessive determiners. They tell us who the noun belongs to. For example, “Her cat is cute.”

4. Quantifiers:

Quantifiers give information about the quantity or amount of a noun.

“Some,” “any,” “many,” “few,” “several,” “all,” “most,” “each,” “every,” and “no” are examples of quantifiers. They help us understand the quantity or frequency of the noun. For example, “I have some books.”

5. Numbers:

Numbers are determiners that indicate the specific quantity or order of a noun.

“One,” “two,” “three,” and so on are examples of numbers. They show the exact quantity or position of the noun. For example, “I have three cats.”

6. Interrogatives:

Interrogatives are determiners used in questions to inquire about the noun.

“Which,” “what,” and “whose” are examples of interrogative determiners. They help us seek information about the noun. For example, “Which book do you prefer?”

7. Distributives:

Distributives are determiners that indicate how something is divided or distributed among a group.

“Each” is used to refer to individual members of a group separately. For example, “Each student received a prize.”

“Every” is similar to “each” and refers to all the members of a group individually. For example, “Every house on the street has a garden.”

“Either” is used when there are two choices or alternatives. For example, “You can choose either option.”

“Neither” is used to indicate that none of the two options are chosen. For example, “Neither choice is suitable.”

8. Indefinites:

Indefinite determiners refer to non-specific or unidentified nouns.

“Some,” “any,” “no,” “many,” “few,” “several,” and “all” can also function as indefinite determiners. They indicate an unspecified or non-specific quantity. For example, “Some people like chocolate.”

9. Predeterminers:

Predeterminers are determiners that come before other determiners and provide additional information about quantity or proportion.

“All,” “both,” “half,” “double,” and “twice” are examples of predeterminers. They modify other determiners to give more specific information. For example, “All the students passed the exam.”

Position of Determiners

The position of determiners refers to where they are placed in relation to the noun they modify. There are two common positions for determiners: before the noun and after linking verbs.

Before the Noun:

The most common position for determiners is before the noun they modify. When determiners are placed before the noun, they directly precede it and provide information about its specificity, quantity, possession, or other characteristics.


  • “The cat” is on the roof. (definite article “the” comes before the noun “cat”)
  • “My dog” loves to play. (possessive determiner “my” comes before the noun “dog”)
  • “Several students” attended the lecture. (quantifier determiner “several” comes before the noun “students”)

After Linking Verbs:

Determiners can also appear after linking verbs, which are verbs that connect the subject of a sentence to a noun or adjective that describes or renames it. In this position, the determiner follows the linking verb and describes the subject of the sentence.


  • The cat is “mine”. (possessive determiner “mine” follows the linking verb “is” and describes the subject “cat”)
  • She became “a doctor”. (indefinite article “a” follows the linking verb “became” and describes the subject “she”)

All determiners can appear after linking verbs. Some determiners, such as articles (“the,” “a,” “an”), demonstratives (“this,” “that”), and numbers, are typically used before the noun.

Agreement with Nouns

Agreement with nouns refers to the matching of determiners with the nouns they modify in terms of number and gender. Determiners need to agree with nouns in order to maintain grammatical consistency within a sentence. Let’s explore two aspects of agreement: number agreement and gender agreement.

Number Agreement:

Determiners need to match the number (singular or plural) of the noun they modify.

Singular Nouns: When the noun is singular, determiners used with it should also be in the singular form.

Example: “The cat is sleeping.” (singular noun “cat” matches the singular definite article “the”)

Plural Nouns: When the noun is plural, determiners should be in the plural form as well.

Example: “Many cats are playing.” (plural noun “cats” matches the plural quantifier “many”)

Gender Agreement:

Some determiners can also show agreement with the gender of the noun, particularly in languages with gendered nouns. However, in English, gender agreement is not as prevalent as it is in other languages. In English, determiners typically do not change based on the gender of the noun.

Example: “The dog is friendly.” (the definite article “the” remains the same regardless of the gender of the noun “dog”)

Not all determiners are subject to gender agreement in English. Determiners like articles (“the,” “a,” “an”), demonstratives (“this,” “that”), and quantifiers (“some,” “many,” “few”) do not change based on the gender of the noun they modify.

Examples of Determiners in Sentences

Here are some examples used in sentences:

1. Articles:

  • “The” cat is sitting on the mat.
  • “A” book is on the table.
  • “An” apple a day keeps the doctor away.

2. Demonstratives:

  • “This” car is mine.
  • “That” house is for sale.
  • “These” flowers are beautiful.
  • “Those” shoes are too small.

3. Possessives:

  • “My” dog loves to play.
  • “Your” opinion matters to me.
  • “His” car is parked outside.
  • “Her” book is on the shelf.
  • “Our” house is painted blue.
  • “Their” children are well-behaved.

4. Quantifiers:

  • “Some” students went on a field trip.
  • “Any” milk left in the refrigerator?
  • “Many” people attended the concert.
  • “Few” chairs were available.
  • “Several” books were missing from the library.
  • “All” the guests enjoyed the party.

5. Numbers:

  • “One” apple fell from the tree.
  • “Two” birds were singing on the branch.
  • “Three” friends went to the movies.
  • “Fourth” place is a great achievement.

6. Interrogatives:

  • “Which” book do you recommend?
  • “What” time is the meeting?
  • “Whose” pen is this?
  • “How many” apples are left?
  • “How much” money do you need?

7. Distributives:

  • “Each” student received a certificate.
  • “Every” child deserves love and care.
  • “Either” option is fine with me.
  • “Neither” candidate won the election.

8. Indefinites:

  • “Some” people like spicy food.
  • “Any” child can participate in the contest.
  • “No” dogs are allowed in the park.
  • “Many” cars were parked outside.
  • “Few” students attended the lecture.
  • “Several” books caught my attention.

Exercises for practice

Exercise 1:

Fill in the blanks with the appropriate determiners:

  1. Can I have _____ orange, please?
  2. _____ students participated in the science fair.
  3. I saw _____ interesting movie last night.
  4. _____ books on the shelf belong to me.
  5. _____ dog is barking loudly outside.


  1. an
  2. Several
  3. an
  4. The
  5. That

Exercise 2:

Choose the correct determiner for each sentence:

  1. ____ cat is sleeping on the couch. (This/These)
  2. I need to buy _____ groceries. (some/many)
  3. _______ student in the class passed the test. (Every/All)
  4. Can you pass me _______ pen? (your/my)
  5. We enjoyed _______ concert last night. (the/an)


  1. This
  2. some
  3. Every
  4. your
  5. The

FAQs on Determiner

What is the role of determiners in a sentence?

Determiners help specify or provide information about nouns. They indicate things like specificity, quantity, possession, or general versus specific reference.

Can determiners be used with both singular and plural nouns?

Yes, determiners can be used with both singular and plural nouns. The choice of determiner depends on the number and context of the noun.

Are all determiners used before the noun they modify?

No, some determiners can also be used after linking verbs to describe the subject. However, determiners like articles and demonstratives are typically used before the noun.

Can determiners indicate gender in English?

In English, determiners typically do not indicate gender. They focus more on specifying quantity, possession, or specificity rather than gender agreement.

How can I choose the right determiner for a noun?

Choosing the right determiner depends on the specific context and the information you want to convey. Consider factors like specificity, quantity, possession, and the relationship between the noun and the speaker.

Can I use multiple determiners together?

Yes, it is possible to use multiple determiners together. However, there is a general order to follow.

How can I improve my understanding and usage of determiners?

Practice is key! Read and analyze sentences to identify different determiners and their functions. Pay attention to the context in which determiners are used, and practice using them correctly in your own writing and speaking.

Read also:


  • What Is a Determiner? | Definition, Types & Examples –
Photo of author
I am a learner like you. I just want to learn about the resources around us and share with you about those resources via this learning platform.