Determiners

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Determiners are words or phrases in noun phrases that modify or indicate what entities the noun refers to. For example, a determiner can constrain the meaning of the noun to a specific or non-specific, known or unknown entity, or a particular number of entities. Determiners include the following types, and occur in the following order.

(1) Predeterminers

  • Distributive determiners: each, any, both
  • Multipliers and fractions: one-half (of), one-third the width; double, four times
  • Interrogative & exclamatory determiners: which idiot; what an idiot; such an idiot
  • Relative determiners: whichever, whatever

(2) Central determiners

  • Demonstratives: this, that, these, those
  • Definite and indefinite delimiters or articles: a, an, the (I prefer to use my own term delimiter instead of article)
  • Possessive determiners: my, your, his,her,its,our, their

(3) Postdeterminers

  • Cardinal numerals: one, two
  • Ordinal numberals: first, second
  • Quantifiers: many, few, several


Additionally, there are noun classifiers, which seem to occur in the central or postdeterminer slots, though classifiers are not determiners. In East Asian languages, classifiers indicate a semantic class or noun type, e.g., Chinese yi ge shitou and Korean dolmaengi han ge, where ge is used in both languages as a noun counter for general nouns that indicates a particular item