What is a Determiner ?

Read the following sentences carefully:- 

  • It is my pen.
  • I have  a litter sugar in my jar
  • Every student in the class is bright.

  Here –

 ‘My’ is describing the Pen ( Noun )

‘ A little’ is describing the sugar in the jar ( Noun)

‘Bright is describing the student (Noun)

So we can say –


A determiner is a word that introduces a noun I.e. a word that tells something about a noun.

Example :
      It is my pen.
      I have some good Grammar books.  

Here SOME and MY, which are placed

before the nouns i.e. PEN and Books, are Determiners as they are pointing out the nouns that are placed just after them.


Key features of DETERMINERS-
So if we notice the following examples, we can find out some basic features of determiners.


1. A Determiner tells something about a noun.

2. They are always placed before a Noun.
3. They are placed before the Adjectives also that describe the nouns.


  •  Kashmir is called the Switzerland of India.
    Here Switzerland is not a Proper Noun but used as an Adjective for Kashmir.

4. While framing the questions of  determiner sentences, we find out that questions are framed only with either ‘ whose’,  ‘how many’ ‘how much’ or ‘which’


 Que. Whose pen is this?
        Ans. This is my pen.
        Que. Which book is yours?
        Ans. That book is mine.

        Que. How many good Grammar books 

        are you having with you?
        Ans. I have some good Grammar books 

         with me.


6. A determiner is a part of an Adjective


Still, there is a little difference between a Determiners and an Adjective

An adjective describes a noun while a Determiner determines or points out a noun.


  • I have a beautiful kite. 
  • I have a kite.

In the first example, we are told the kind of a particular kite. While in the second sentence we are exactly pointing out how many kites I am having.

Still, we can’t completely say other determiners are not parts of adjective because other parts of determines are also parts of Adjectives.

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Now there are total of four  kinds of Determiners:

  1. Demonstratives
  2. Possessives(Possessive Adjective)
  3. Quantifiers
  4. Articles

Some Grammarian have divided them into nine  parts:-

  5. Interrogative ( only some interrogative words not every)

  6. Distributive

   7. Ordinal

   8. Cardinals




Demonstrative is a word that has been derived from the Latin word DEMONSTRARE that means to ‘show something clearly.

So in this way, we
can say that we can show someone or something clearly by pointing out so in short, we can say

” Demonstrative are the words
that point out the ones referred to.” We can say-

  • It talks about the things
    by pointing out.
  • It talks about the
    person by pointing out.
  • It points out the things as proof.
  • It points out the ideas that are very close to your mind or in our distant memories.
  • This is the watch my mother gave me on my birthday.
  • That is the ring I was looking for.
  • Those are the boys who were disturbing the class.
  • These grapes are very sour. I can’t eat them.

So in short, demonstratives are the words
that show the things or persons by pointing out.
Now let’s check demonstrative in detail-
There are four kinds of Demonstrative-

  • This
  • That
  • These
  • Those

Now let’s check each kind of
demonstrative in detail –
THIS points out the things, persons or
ideas they are very close to us.

Example- This marker is mine.
(Means – The marker is very close to the person who is pointing it out.)
This book is not yours.
(Means marker is very close to the person who is pointing out.)
This idea is better than that one.
( This idea – the idea that is going on right now.)
Were you asking about this boy?
(Means the boy is very close to the speaker.)

In precise, we can notice that we are talking about the things
or ideas that are very close to us.


That talks about the things, persons, or ideas that are very far from us.

That book is not mine.
(Means- The book is very far from the person who is pointing it out.)

That idea didn’t really work.
(Means- The idea is in the distant memory of the speaker)
My bag is better than that of yours.
(Means- The bag is very far from the person who is pointing it out.)
Your book is heavier than that of mine
(Means- The book is far from the speaker)

So we can simply say that the person, things, or ideas
that have been mentioned in the above sentences
are either far from the speaker or in his distant memories.

THESE-Plural of This

These talk about many persons, things, or ideas that
are very close to us.

These grapes are very sour. I can’t eat them.
Where are you these days?
Can you suggest to me some more plans than these?

It is also very clear that THESE is the Pronoun/Demonstrative
actually talking about many things
persons or ideas that are very close to
the speaker.

THOSE- Plural of That

That talks about many things
many person things or ideas that area
little or very far from the speaker.


Those clocks never give the correct time.
These plants are bigger than those.
Those ideas just really didn’t work.

So these are some usage of demonstratives.


Possessive Adjective

Possessives – the word has been derived from the word POSSESSIONS meaning of which is-  TO OWE SOMETHING.

Thus “The person or thing that has right on anyone or anything is called Possessive.”

i.e. Possessives are the words that show to whom the thing or person belongs.

Possessive Adjective

“The words used before the nouns that show the ownership on something/someone are called Possessive Adjective.”

  • It is MY pen.

       This pen belongs to me.

  • is it YOUR water bottle 

       ( Does this bottle belong to you.

  • Where are THEIR notebooks?

      ( Where are the books belong to them?

The basic feature of Possessive

It is used in place of a noun.

 e.g. Whose pen is this?

      This is Ankit’s pen.

      Suppose Ankit is standing in front of you. 

      You will say by pointing out Ankit that ” It is his pen.” 

      so here the word HIS has been replaced with 

      the noun-Ankit.

The Possessive Adjective is always used before the noun.

It informs us whom the things belong to.

It can be placed as a complement of the verb or as a Subjective case.

e.g. It is my purse. (Complement of a verb)


     My purse is on the table. (the subject of a verb)

A Possessive adjective is divided into Singular and Plural


HIs- for a boy

Her- for a girl

your- II Person

Its- non-living/ideas

My- I Person

Your – Singular / Plural- II Person

Our- Plural- I Person

Their- III Person

‘ Your ‘  is used as a Singular and Plural also

A Possessive adjective is divided into Singular and Plural both:-



My- First Person

HIs- for a boy

Her- for a girl

Your- II Person

Its- non-living/ideas



Your- singular/ plural – II Person

My- I Person

Our- Plural-  I Person

Their- III Person

Published by Buds of Wisdom

I am Meena Kumari, PGT(English)+ B.ed. Teaching is my passion. Love to guide students in Grammar Learning and build up their writing skills.


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