Definition and Types of Determiner | Parts of Speech

Definition of Determiners

There are major content words in English as Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives and Adverbs, and minor function words as Pronouns, Prepositions, Conjunctions, Determiners and Interjections. Determiners are minor function words in English language. Let us look at the definition of Determiners and types of Determiners.

Definition of determiners: Determiners are the words that are placed before nouns or adjectives to introduce them. These are different from adjectives because they are just used for introduction of nouns while adjectives give additional information about nouns. Determiners are also called Determinatives. Common words used as Determiners are as follows:

A, the, every, any, that, my, your, which, etc

Examples in sentences:

  • This is Chandelier.
  • I did not check any papers.

Definition of determiners in dictionary

Definitions of determiner vary according to dictionaries. Click here for definition of determiner in Merriam Webster dictionary.

Types of Determiners

Determiners are classified into following types: Articles, Demonstrative Determiners, Possessive Determiners, Quantifiers, Interrogative Determiners, Distributive Determiner, Cardinal Numbers and Ordinal Numbers.


The adjectives ‘a’, ‘an’ and ‘the’ are usually called Articles. Articles are function words. There are two kinds of articles: Definite Article and Indefinite Article.

Definite Article: An article that used to point some specific person or thing is called a definite article. ‘The’ is the only definite article.

Examples in sentences:

  • The clothes that I bought yesterday were perfect.
  • This is the best place I have ever been in.

Indefinite Article: The articles ‘a’ and an ‘are’ called Indefinite Articles because the place or thing talked about is not particular and is left indefinite.

Examples in sentences:

  • One morning a woody woodpecker came to our house.

It could be any woody woodpecker, not a particular one.

  • Nobody said word.
  • An ostrich is a big bird.

Demonstrative Determiners

These determiners are used to demonstrate a specific thing or identity of that thing. The words that come under the category of Demonstrative Determiners are as follows:

This, that, these, those

Examples of Demonstrative Determiners in sentences:

  • I like to paint these pictures.
  • She patted that dog yesterday.

Possessive determiners

Possessive determiners are functions words that are used before a noun to show possession or ownership of something. The words that come under the category of Possessive Determiners are as follows:

My, your, our, her, his, their, its

Examples of Possessive Determiners in sentences:

  • My apartment keys were lost.
  • His shop has all kinds of crafts in it.

Distributive Determiners

Distributive Determiners are the type of function words that refer to things or people of a group or the whole group. The words that come under the category of Distributive Determiners are as follows:

Every, each, all, both, either, neither, half, etc

Examples of Distributive Determiners in sentences:

  • Each employee was given a raise in salary.
  • All drinks were spilled.

Interrogative Determiners

Interrogative determiners are the function words which are used to pose questions. They are also called Wh-Determiners because they all have ‘wh’ at the start. The words that come under the category of Interrogative Determiners are as follows:

What, which, whatever, whichever, whoever, whose etc

Examples of Interrogative Determiners in sentences:

  • Whose papers were not signed?
  • Which college are you going to apply for this summer?


Quantifiers are the function words that are used before nouns to tell about the quantity of something. The words that come under the category of Quantifiers are as follows:

All, no, any, many, some, few, a little, a lot, etc

Examples of Quantifiers in sentences:

  • I only have some papers left.
  • There is a little sausage on the pizza.

Cardinal Numbers

Cardinal Numbers are also used to indicate quantity. However, they show it using numbers and counting. Cardinal Numbers are mostly considered a type of Quantifiers and are used as Determiners. The words that come under the category Cardinal Numbers are as follows:

One, two, three, twelve, a hundred, two thousand, etc

Examples of Cardinal Numbers in sentences:

  • There are six people in the car.
  • The airplane is containing two hundred and seventy passengers.

Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal Numbers are the function words that are used to indicate order or position of people, things or events. Words that come under the category of Ordinal Numbers are as follows:

First, second, third, etc

Examples of Ordinals in sentences:

  • Ali tried and tried until he finally got the equation right the fifth time.
  • The third person on the front row is his brother.