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CHAPTER 20.  DETERMINERS

As indicated in the tables below, many determiners can be used either as adjectives or as pronouns. As will be pointed out in the next chapter, when a determiner is used as an adjective modifying a noun, the determiner usually precedes any other adjectives modifying the same noun.

The use of the following determiners has already been discussed in previous chapters: a, an, the, this, that, these and those. The possessive adjectives my, your, his, her, our and their can also be classified as determiners.

As indicated below, many determiners may be used only with certain types of noun. In the following tables, the abbreviation CN stands for Countable Noun, and the abbreviation UN stands for Uncountable Noun. In these tables, the noun tree is used as an example of a countable noun, and the noun grass is used as an example of an uncountable noun.

Determiners used as Adjectives


DeterminerUsed WithExampleMeaning
  all  plural CN  all trees  trees in general
    UN  all grass  grass in general
    
  another  singular CN  another tree  one additional or different tree
    
  any  singular CN  any tree  refers to one tree, without
          specifying which, of a group
          of more than 2 trees
    plural CN  any trees  refers to 2 or more trees,
          without specifying which
    UN  any grass  refers to some grass,
          without specifying which
    
  both  plural CN  both trees  refers to 2 trees of a
          group of 2
    
  each  singular CN  each tree  refers to every tree,
          considered individually,
          of a group of 2 or more
    
  either  singular CN  either tree  refers to 1 of 2 trees,
          without specifying which
    
  enough  plural CN  enough trees  a sufficient number of trees
    UN  enough grass  a sufficient amount of grass
    
  every  singular CN  every tree  all trees, without exception,
          of a group of more than 2 trees
    
  few  plural CN  few trees  a small number of trees
    
  fewer  plural CN  fewer trees  a smaller number of trees
    
  less  UN  less grass  a smaller amount of grass
    
  little  UN  little grass  a small amount of grass
    
  many  plural CN  many trees  a large number of trees
    
  more  plural CN  more trees  an additional number of trees
    UN  more grass  an additional amount of grass
    
  most  plural CN  most trees  nearly all trees
    UN  most grass  nearly all grass
    
  much  UN  much grass  a large amount of grass
    
  neither  singular CN  neither tree  no tree of a group of 2 trees
    
  no  singular CN  no tree  not any tree
    plural CN  no trees  not any trees
    UN  no grass  not any grass
    
  one  singular CN  one tree  a single tree
    
  only  plural CN  only trees  nothing except trees
    UN  only grass  nothing except grass
    
  other  plural CN  other trees  different trees
    UN  other grass  different grass
    
  several  plural CN  several trees  more than 2 trees, but not
          a large number of trees
    
  some  singular CN  some tree  an unspecified tree
    plural CN  some trees  unspecified trees
    UN  some grass  unspecified grass
    
  such  singular CN  such a tree  a tree of a certain kind
    plural CN  such trees  trees of a certain kind
    UN  such grass  grass of a certain kind
    
  that  singular CN  that tree  a particular tree, which
          is not nearby
    UN  that grass  particular grass, which
          is not nearby
    
  these  plural CN  these trees  particular trees, which
          are nearby
    
  this  singular CN  this tree  a particular tree, which
          is nearby
    UN  this grass  particular grass, which
          is nearby
    
  those  plural CN  those trees  particular trees, which
          are not nearby
    
  what  singular CN  what tree  asks in general for one
          tree to be specified
    plural CN  what trees  asks in general for particular
          trees to be specified
    UN  what grass  asks in general for particular
          grass to be specified
    
  which  singular CN  which tree  asks for one tree to be specified
          from a certain group of trees
    plural CN  which trees  asks for trees to be specified
          from a certain group of trees
    UN  which grass  asks for some of certain
          grass to be specified



The following determiners can be used independently, as pronouns:

Determiners used as Pronouns


DeterminerUsed WithExampleMeaning
  all  plural CN  all (of) the trees  refers to every tree in a
          group of more than 2
          trees
    UN  all (of) the grass  refers to the whole amount
          of certain specified grass
    
  another  plural CN  another of the trees  one more of certain
          specified trees
    
  any  plural CN  any of the trees  refers to 1 or more
          unspecified trees from a
          group of more than 2
    UN  any of the grass  refers to some of certain
          specified grass
    
  both  plural CN  both of the trees  refers to 2 trees of a
          group of 2
    
  each  plural CN  each of the trees  refers to every tree,
          considered individually,
          of a group of 2 or more
    
  either  plural CN  either of the trees  refers to 1 of 2 trees,
          without specifying which
    
  enough  singular CN  enough of the tree  a sufficient amount of a
          specified tree
    plural CN  enough of the trees  a sufficient number of
          certain specified trees
    UN  enough of the grass  a sufficient amount of
          certain specified grass
    
  few  plural CN  few of the trees  a small number from a
          specified group of trees
    
  fewer  plural CN  fewer of the trees  a smaller number from a
          specified group of trees
    
  less  UN  less of the grass  a smaller amount of certain
          specified grass
    
  little  UN  little of the grass  a small amount of certain
          specified grass
    
  many  plural CN  many of the trees  a large number of certain
          specified trees
    
  more  plural CN  more of the trees  an additional number of
          certain specified trees
    UN  more of the grass  an additional amount of
          certain specified grass
    
  most  plural CN  most of the trees  nearly all of certain
          specified trees
    UN  most of the grass  nearly all of certain
          specified grass
    
  much  UN  much of the grass  a large proportion of
          certain specified grass
    
  neither  plural CN  neither of the trees  no tree of a group of 2 trees
    
  none  plural CN  none of the trees  no tree of certain specified
          trees
    UN  none of the grass  no grass of certain specified
          grass
    
  one  plural CN  one of the trees  a single tree of certain
          specified trees
    
  others  plural CN  others of the trees  different trees, from a
          particular group of trees
    
  several  plural CN  several of the trees  more than 2, but not a large
          number, of certain specified
          trees
    
  some  singular CN  some of the tree  an unspecified portion of
          a particular tree
    plural CN  some of the trees  unspecified trees from a
          particular group of trees
    UN  some of the grass  an unspecified portion
          of particular grass
    
  such  plural CN  such of the trees  trees of a certain kind,
          from a certain specified
          group of trees
    UN  such of the grass  grass of a certain kind,
          from certain specified
          grass
    
  those  plural CN  those of the trees  particular trees, from a
          certain specified group
          of trees
    
  which  plural CN  which of the trees  asks for one or more trees
          to be specified, from a
          particular group of trees

 

1. Determiners used to refer to groups of two persons or things


In Old English, there were singular forms, plural forms and dual forms. Dual forms are used to refer to two persons or things. In modern English, a few words still remain which refer to two persons or things.
For example, the determiners both, either and neither are used when referring to groups of two. Both refers to two things of a group of two, either refers to one thing of a group of two, and neither refers to zero things of a group of two.
e.g. I have two brothers. Both of them are engineers.
      I had two maps of the city, but I cannot find either of them.
      There are two textbooks for the course. Neither of them is expensive.

In contrast, the determiners all, any and none may be used when referring to groups with more than two members. All may refer to every member of a group of three or more, any may refer to one member of a group of three or more, and none may refer to zero members of a group of three or more.
e.g. I have three brothers. All of them are engineers.
      I had four maps of the city, but I cannot find any of them.
      There are six textbooks for the course. None of them is expensive.

See Exercise 1.

The following rules for the use of either and neither should be noted.

If it is desired to change a clause beginning with either so as to express a negative meaning, either must be changed to neither.
e.g. Affirmative Meaning: Either of the alternatives is acceptable.
      Negative Meaning: Neither of the alternatives is acceptable.

      Affirmative Meaning: Either hotel will offer you its best room.
      Negative Meaning: Neither hotel will offer you its best room.

A sentence which contains the word either, in which either does not occur at the beginning of a clause, can be changed to express a negative meaning either by using the word not, or by changing either to neither.
e.g. Affirmative Meaning: You may borrow either of the books.
      Negative Meaning: You may not borrow either of the books.
      Negative Meaning: You may borrow neither of the books.

      Affirmative Meaning: I might give the message to either boy.
      Negative Meaning: I might not give the message to either boy.
      Negative Meaning: I might give the message to neither boy.

It should be noted that in modern English, the determiner neither is most often used only at the beginning of a clause. Otherwise, the meaning of neither is usually expressed by the combination not ... either.

In addition to being used as determiners, the words both, either and neither can also be used as conjunctions. Conjunctions will be discussed in Chapter 28.

 

2. Determiners used as singular or plural pronouns


In formal English, the pronouns another, each, either, neither and one always take singular verbs.
e.g. Each of the children wants to win the prize.
      Either of the alternatives is acceptable.
      Neither of the books has good illustrations.
      Every one of the students was ready on time.
In these examples, the singular verbs wants, is, has, and was are used with the pronouns each, either, neither and one.

In informal English, plural verbs are sometimes used with pronouns such as each, either and neither.
e.g. Neither of the books have good illustrations.
However, this use of the plural verb is considered to be grammatically incorrect in formal English.

It should also be noted that in formal English, when the words another, each, every, either, neither and one are used in combination with personal pronouns or possessive adjectives, singular forms are always used. As mentioned previously, in formal English, the adjective his or the phrase his or her may be used when referring to a group containing both male and female members.
e.g. Each of the children waited impatiently for his turn.
      Every student raised his or her hand.
      Neither of the girls has finished her homework.
      Either of the hotels will offer you its best room.
In these examples, each, every, neither and either are used in combination with the singular forms his, his or her, her and its.

In informal English, plural possessive adjectives are often used in this type of sentence.
e.g. Neither of the girls finished their homework.
However, this use of the plural possessive adjective is considered to be grammatically incorrect in formal English.

It should be noted that in both formal and informal English, none is used sometimes with singular, and sometimes with plural verbs.
e.g. None of them is here. or
      None of them are here.

In contrast, the pronouns both, few, many and several are always plural. They take plural verbs, and are used in combination with plural personal pronouns and possessive adjectives. In addition, the pronoun all is always plural when used with countable nouns.
e.g. Both of the boys have completed their essays.
      Several of the musicians are giving their first performances tonight.
      All of the girls have finished their homework.

In these examples, the pronouns both, several and all take the plural verbs have completed, are giving and have finished, and are used in combination with the plural possessive adjective their.

See Exercise 2.

 

3. The use of All, Both and Each


In addition to being used as attributive adjectives and as pronouns followed by of, the words all, both and each can also be used in apposition. A word used in apposition immediately follows the subject of a verb, or the object of a verb or preposition, and refers to the same thing as the subject or object. In the following examples, the words in apposition are printed in bold type.
e.g. We both wondered what would happen next.
      The boys all looked forward to seeing the circus.
      I sent them each an invitation.

In the first two examples, both and all are used in apposition to the subjects we and the boys. In the third example, each is used in apposition to the object them.

Words used in apposition can be referred to as appositives. Like relative clauses, appositives can be defining or non-defining. Non-defining appositives must be preceded and followed by commas.
e.g. Our leader, Tom Smith, was prepared for any emergency.
In this example Tom Smith is a non-defining appositive, in apposition to our leader.

Defining appositives such as all, both and each are not preceded and followed by commas.
e.g. We each have our own ideas.
In this example, the defining appositive each is in apposition to we. It should be noted that although each is singular, the verb have must be plural to agree with the subject we.

When used in clauses with auxiliary verbs or with the Simple Present or Simple Past of the verb to be, all, both and each generally follow the first auxiliary or the verb to be, rather than being used in apposition to the subject of the verb.
e.g. The boys had all been looking forward to seeing the circus.
      We are both very happy to see you.
In the first example, all follows the first auxiliary had. In the second example, both follows the Simple Present of the verb to be.

 

4. The use of No, None and Not


The words no, none and not have similar meanings, but different grammatical functions.

The determiner no can be used as an adjective, but not as a pronoun; whereas none can be used as a pronoun, but not as an adjective.
e.g. He has no books.
      None of the books are his.
In the first example, no is used as an adjective modifying the noun books. In the second example, none functions as a pronoun.

As has already been pointed out, the adverb not may be placed after the Simple Present or Simple Past of the verb to be, or after the first auxiliary of other verbs, in order to form a negative sentence or clause.
e.g. You are not late.
      I have not forgotten what you said.

See Exercise 3.

Just as neither can be said to be equivalent to the combination not ... either, none can be said to be equivalent to not ... any. For instance, the following sentence:
      He will have no difficulty.
could also be written:
      He will not have any difficulty.

 

5. The use of Some and Any


The determiners some and any have slightly different meanings. The use of the word some generally implies a belief in the existence of the object or objects under consideration, whereas the use of the word any may imply a doubt about the existence of the object or objects under consideration.

The words some, somebody, someone, something and somewhere are used in affirmative statements, as well as in polite questions and questions expecting an affirmative reply.
e.g. Affirmative Statement: I saw some birds in the park.
      Polite Question: Would you like some tea?
      Affirmative Reply Expected: You seem worried. Is something wrong?

In contrast, the words any, anybody, anyone, anything and anywhere are used in questions and negative statements, as well as in affirmative statements referring in an indefinite way to a type of object, without specifying a particular object.
e.g. Question: Did you see any birds in the park?
      Negative Statement: I do not know anyone here.
      Indefinite Reference: Any drug store can supply you with aspirin.

The words some, somebody, someone, something and somewhere usually cannot be used in a negative statement. If it is desired to change a clause beginning with the word some so that it expresses a negative meaning, some may be changed to no or none, depending on whether an adjective or pronoun is required.

In the following example, some is used as an adjective modifying the noun books. In order to change the sentence to express a negative meaning, some is replaced by the adjective no.
e.g. Affirmative Meaning: Some books were left on the shelf.
      Negative Meaning: No books were left on the shelf.

In the following example, some is used as a pronoun. In order to change the sentence to express a negative meaning, some is replaced by the pronoun none.
e.g. Affirmative Meaning: Some of the visitors arrived late.
      Negative Meaning: None of the visitors arrived late.

Similarly, if it is desired to change a clause beginning with somebody, someone, something or somewhere so that it expresses a negative meaning, these words may be replaced by nobody, no one, nothing and nowhere, respectively.
e.g. Affirmative Meaning: Someone left a message.
      Negative Meaning: No one left a message.

      Affirmative Meaning: Something has happened.
      Negative Meaning: Nothing has happened.

A sentence containing the word some, in which some does not occur at the beginning of a clause, can be changed to express a negative meaning by changing the sentence to a negative statement using not, and by changing some to any.
e.g. Affirmative Meaning: I bought some potatoes.
      Negative Meaning: I did not buy any potatoes.

      Affirmative Meaning: We will copy some of the recipes.
      Negative Meaning: We will not copy any of the recipes.

It is possible to use no or none in such sentences instead of the construction with not ... any.
e.g. I bought no potatoes.
      We will copy none of the recipes.
However, in modern English, the construction with not ... any is more often used than the construction with no or none.

See Exercise 4.

Similarly, a sentence containing the word somebody, someone, something or somewhere, in which the word beginning with some does not occur at the beginning of a clause, can be changed to express a negative meaning by changing the sentence to a negative statement using not, and by changing the word beginning with some to the corresponding word beginning with any.
e.g. Affirmative Meaning: I met someone I used to know.
      Negative Meaning: I did not meet anyone I used to know.

      Affirmative Meaning: We will buy something.
      Negative Meaning: We will not buy anything.

In such sentences, nobody, no one, nothing or nowhere may be used instead of a negative statement with not and the word anybody, anyone, anything or anywhere.
e.g. I met no one I used to know.
      We will buy nothing.
However, the construction with not is more often used.

See Exercise 5.

 

6. The use of Another, Other, Others and Else

The words another, other, others and else are used to indicate one or more additional or different things.

Another is formed from a combination of the words an and other, and has a meaning similar to one other. When used as an adjective, another can precede only a singular countable noun. When used as a pronoun, another takes a singular verb.
e.g. Please bring me another knife.
      Another of her uncles lives in Montreal.
In the first example, another modifies the singular noun knife. In the second example, the pronoun another is the subject of the singular verb lives.

Other can be used with singular countable, plural countable or uncountable nouns.
e.g. The other door is open.
      The other streets are paved.
      Do you have any other luggage?
In these examples, other modifies the singular countable noun door, the plural countable noun streets, and the uncountable noun luggage.

Another usually cannot be immediately preceded by a determiner. In contrast, when used before a singular countable noun, other usually must be preceded by a determiner.
e.g. Please pass me the other cup.
      I do not know any other way to do it.
      There must be some other explanation.
In these examples, other is used with the singular countable nouns cup, way and explanation, and is preceded by the determiners the, any and some.

When other modifies a singular countable noun, the noun is sometimes omitted, particularly in the expression one ... the other.
e.g. I have two pens. One is green and the other is blue.
      One of my parents is a teacher; the other is a doctor.

In these examples, the nouns following the word other are understood, rather than expressed. In the following sentences, the nouns which are understood are enclosed in square brackets.
e.g. I have two pens. One is green and the other [pen] is blue.
      One of my parents is a teacher; the other [parent] is a doctor.

Others is a pronoun. Others can be used to take the place of the word other, followed by a plural countable noun.
e.g. Those trees are hemlocks; the others are pines.
      Ten people belong to the group, and five others are planning to join.
In the first example, others takes the place of the words other trees. In the second example, others takes the place of the words other people.

Others is often used in the expression some ... others.
e.g. Some books are easy to read, but others are quite difficult.
      Some people like classical music, while others prefer jazz.

The word else has a meaning similar to other. However, rather than being used as an adjective preceding a noun, else usually follows interrogative pronouns such as who and what, and indefinite pronouns such as anyone and someone.
e.g. Who else was at the meeting?
      What else is on the agenda?
      Has anyone else solved the problem?
      Someone else may be able to help you.

See Exercise 6.

 

7. The use of Only


In addition to being used as a determiner, the word only can be used to modify almost any part of a sentence. In general, the word only immediately precedes the part of the sentence which it modifies.

The following examples illustrate how changing the position of the word only can change the meaning of a sentence.
e.g. Only the trees were somewhat damaged by last year's storm.
      Meaning: Nothing except the trees was somewhat damaged by last year's storm.

      The only trees were somewhat damaged by last year's storm.
      Meaning: The few trees which existed were somewhat damaged by last year's storm.

      The trees were only somewhat damaged by last year's storm.
      Meaning: The trees were not completely damaged by last year's storm.

      The trees were somewhat damaged only by last year's storm.
      Meaning: The trees were somewhat damaged by nothing except last year's storm.

      The trees were somewhat damaged by last year's only storm.
      Meaning: The trees were somewhat damaged by the one storm which occurred last year.

See Exercise 7.

 

8. The use of Few, Little and Several


The use of the word a with the determiners few and little somewhat changes the meaning which is expressed.

The expressions a few and a little merely refer to a small quantity of something.
e.g. A few of his friends came to the party.
      Meaning: Some of his friends came to the party.

      I had a little time to consider the situation.
      Meaning: I had a small amount of time to consider the situation.

In contrast, few and little not only refer to a small quantity of something, but also imply that the quantity is remarkably, or undesirably small.
e.g. Few of his friends came to the party.
      Meaning: Only a very small number of his friends came to the party.

      I had little time to consider the situation.
      Meaning: I had almost no time to consider the situation.

See Exercise 8.

The expressions a few and several can both be used to refer to three or more things. However, there is a slight difference in meaning. The expression a few generally emphasizes that the quantity referred to is relatively small, while the expression several generally emphasizes that the quantity referred to is relatively large.

For instance, the following sentences could both refer to an event which occurred four or five times.
e.g. I saw him a few times.
      Meaning: I saw him, but I did not see him often.

      I saw him several times.
      Meaning: I saw him more than once or twice.

 

9. The expressions Such ... That, So ... That, and Too


a. Such ... That
The determiner such is often used in combination with a clause beginning with that, in order to indicate a cause and effect relationship.
e.g. There was such a strong wind that we decided to stay indoors.
      He has such high marks that he has applied for a scholarship.

In the first example, a strong wind refers to the cause, and we decided to stay indoors refers to the effect. In the second example, high marks refers to the cause, and he has applied for a scholarship refers to the effect.

It should be noted that when such is used as an adjective modifying a singular countable noun, the word a or an usually follows the word such.
e.g. such a strong wind
      such an unusual event

The construction usually used with the expression such ... that is summarized below, followed by examples.

  such a      that clause stating the
  such an   +  adjective   +  noun   +  effect of the situation
  or such      described in the main clause
    
  She is such a  hard  worker  that she is sure to succeed.
  That is such an  interesting  book  that I read it three times.
  He has such  good  ideas  that he may be promoted.

b. So ... That
The word so combined with a clause beginning with that can also be used in order to indicate a cause and effect relationship.

Whereas such usually modifies a noun, in this construction so is used as an intensifier modifying an adjective or adverb. Intensifiers will be discussed in a later chapter.
e.g. The wind was so strong that we decided to stay indoors.
      His marks are so high that he has applied for a scholarship.
      The wind blew so fiercely that we decided to stay indoors.
In the first two examples, so modifies the adjectives strong and high. In the last example, so modifies the adverb fiercely.

This construction is summarized below, followed by examples.

        adverb or  that clause stating the
  subject   +  verb   +  so   +  adjective   +  effect of the situation
      described in the main clause
     
  She  sang  so  well  that she had to sing an encore.
  The moon  was  so  bright  that we could see for miles.

In informal English, the word that in the expressions such ... that and so ... that is often omitted.
e.g. There was such a strong wind, we decided to stay indoors.
      The moon was so bright, we could see for miles.

So can also be followed by many, much, few or little, followed by a noun, followed by a clause beginning with that. This construction is summarized below, followed by examples.

      many    that clause stating the
    so   +  much,   +  noun   +  effect of the situation
      few or    described in the main clause
      little   
     
  There were  so  many  spectators  that there was standing room only.
  I did  so  much  swimming  that I became very strong.
  He knew  so  few  people  that he often felt lonely.
  There was  so  little  snow  that we could not go skiing.


c. Too
The intensifier too used in combination with an infinitive can also be used to indicate a cause and effect relationship. In the following examples, the word too is printed in bold type, and the infinitives are underlined.
e.g. It is too windy for us to go outside.
      He is too poor to continue studying without a scholarship.
      It was raining too hard for us to leave the house.
In the first two examples, too modifies the adjectives windy and poor. In the last example, too modifies the adverb hard.

The construction usually used with too in combination with an infinitive is summarized below, followed by examples.

        adverb or  phrase containing an infinitive,
  subject   +  verb   +  too   +  adjective   +  indicating the effect of the
          situation described using too
     
  They  walked  too  quickly  for me to overtake them.
  The writing  was  too  difficult  to read.


See Exercise 9.

 

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