A determiner tells us more information about a noun. Say we want to discuss some car. Is it a specific car (the car), somebody’s car (his car) , a car we see over there (that car), or are we talking about some group of cars (cars) ? 

We inform the listener with determiners, which as the name implies, determines if the noun is specific or a random noun, or perhaps even the quantity. Determiners are used to help the listener orient. In other words, when we speak, we always have some specific noun in mind, but the listener cannot read our mind.  That is why determiners are created for the LISTENER, not the SPEAKER to understand which noun we are speaking about – this concept is especially important with articles (a/an/the).

Determiners always come before a noun and there are 4 main categories:

ARTICLES (a/ an/ the)

Articles help us to specify if it is a definite (the : specific) or indefinite ( a/an : unspecific) noun

I have a blue laptop –>  ‘a’ here means some blue laptop that the listener hears about for the first time.

I have the blue laptop which you lent me –> “the” specific blue laptop which the listener already knows about.

POSSESSIVE DETERMINERS ( my, your, her, his, its, our )

Help us to specify whose noun(s) we are discussing.

I bought my guitar in the shop on the corner. –> Here the definite article “the” is unnecessary because the owner of the guitar is given and thus it is clear whose guitar is spoken about.

That is her beer over there –> Here , just like in the previous sentence, the beer is made specific by describing ownership. 

DEMONSTRATIVE DETERMINERS  (that / this / these / those)

Help us point to specific noun(s) when both the speaker and the listener are in the same room.

This dog is really old –> “this” determines which ONE of the dogs that is near us is being spoken about.

These dogs are really old –> “these” determines which TWO or more dogs near us are being spoken about.

That laptop is yours –> “that” determines which ONE of the far away laptops  is being spoken about. 

Those laptops are not yours –> “those” determines which of the TWO or more of thefar away laptops are being spoken about.

QUANTATIVE ( one / two / a few / many / no/ a little bit / etc )

Quantifiers tell us how many of the nouns there are. As opposed to the previous determiners, you can combine them with other determiners.

Please give her one book from the top shelf. ( one can be replaced by “a”)

These two books are very valuable.

No book is for sale.

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