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Determining Determiners: The Clarifying Words

Most of us know what a noun or verb is in the English language. However, there’s a key article of speech that’s just as important to learn: the determiner.

Quick tip: After you learn about these clarifying words, look at this useful reference for more information.

What is a Determiner?

Essentially, these words explain whether you’re speaking about something general or something specific. In addition, it can tell your reader or listener how much or how many of something you’re referring to. Let’s discuss these clarifying words, learn why they’re necessary, and discover how to use them properly.

Working on your next writing assignment? Learn how to style your paper correctly using MLA format and APA format.

Determiner Definition

You place clarifying words before the noun it is referring to. This gives the reader more information about the noun. Some clarifying words include a, an, and, the, that, this, your, ours, and its.

Our cat is sleeping and dreaming.

The book is used for research purposes.

You can identify clarifying words by locating the word just before a noun. These words can also appear before adjectives that may be describing a noun.

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Note: the word and in the sentence about the cat is a conjunction.

Two Main Categories

There are two categories of determiners, general and specific.

Use general words when you can’t remember the specifics and are not referring to a specific person or thing. Some main general words are a, an, many, other, what, etc.

Many dogs were barking last night.

Use specific words to refer to something specific. The main ones include the, my, your, his, her, etc.

My bird was singing all day.

List of Determiners

There are four types of determiner words in the English language. These types are known as articles, demonstratives, possessives, and quantifiers. Let's look at a few examples of each different type.

Articles are words such as a, an, and the.

Demonstratives include this, these, that and those.

Quantifiers are specific. They include many, much, a lot of, most, some, and any.

A possessive pronoun is a clarifying word. For instance, my, yours, his, hers, and their.

As a bonus, you can even call numbers such as one, ten, and twenty clarifying words.

Now that you understand what clarifying words are and how to use them, why not try this helpful grammar checker from BibMe Plus. It’ll help you correct grammar mistakes in your writing and even detect plagiarism!

Check out our other grammar pages: Adverb, Preposition, and Interjection.