What does it mean to be ‘good at’ English? Usually, it means knowing enough vocabulary and how to use it (grammar) to make yourself understood by an English speaker. Due to globalisation, good English skills are useful for travel and essential for doing business. People will understand you better if you can ‘paint a picture’ using the right words. In English, certain words help us to describe our ideas and paint a mental picture about something, someone, or somewhere. These words are known as determiners.
In this blog, we will show some useful determiners to help improve your English.
Firstly, what are determiners?
Determiners are words that give readers or listeners more information about an object or an idea. There are two main types of determiners in the English language:
1. General determiners are used to talk about anything that does not need a definite article (the). Some general determiners tell us about the quantity of the noun. Examples of these determiners are a and an.
“Is that an olive tree over there?”
General determiners like some, many, much work well with uncountable nouns –
“I’ll get some milk while I’m at the shop”.
“I have too much homework.”
2. Specific determiners use the definite article (the) or show ownership, using words like his/hers, mine and your.
“I’m going to the Eiffel Tower this summer.”
“Is that your new girlfriend on Facebook?”
Returning to the title of this blog, which determiners can help improve your English? Four different types of determiners come to mind! We have mentioned some already. They are:
Articles (the, a, an)
Demonstratives (this, that, these, those)
Possessive pronouns (his, her, my mine, our)
Quantifiers (some, a little, many, all)
Let’s take a detailed look at these four types of determiners and how they can help you communicate better in English!
Articles Articles are words that show whether something is specific or unspecific. When we refer to a specific object or a proper noun, we use the definite article The. Indefinite articles A and An are used to refer to something unspecific like a nice book or an early birthday present. Articles are English determiners because they help us determine whether something is specific or general. In some languages like Russian, there are no articles, so learners have to remember to add these determiners and say “I need to call a taxi” rather than “I need to call taxi.”
Demonstratives often show how near or how far away an object is. This could be in physical space or in time.
For example, this and these refer to something either near to the speaker or happening at this moment in time.
“This is the best show I’ve ever seen!” (happening at this moment)
“These apples are very sweet” (these apples I’m tasting).
That and those are used for objects/subjects which are further away in space or time.
“That meal was excellent.” (the meal I ate just before)
“Are those your boots?” (those boots over there)
Possessive Pronouns These are words that show ownership, as we already mentioned in the examples of specific determiners. They show the relationship between people and objects. Possessive pronouns are very useful in spoken English. They help the listener understand who or what you are talking about. A simple way to improve your English is to learn words like my, mine, your, ours, his, and hers.
Imagine you are a Police Officer. Look at the following two examples and decide who caused a traffic accident.
“It wasn’t my fault! He walked into the road without looking first!”
“It was my fault. I walked into the road without looking first.”
(If you chose the second example, well done! This is why possessive pronouns are really useful).
Quantifiers The last type of determiner is quantifiers. Quantifiers are words that usually go before a noun and show how many or how little something is.
Some examples of quantifiers are some, much, many, a little, few, or a lot. Quantifiers are helpful whenever we describe how much or refer to the quantity of something. Different quantifiers work with countable or uncountable nouns.
“How many tickets do you need for the show?”
Practise using these four types of determiners in your daily use of English, and you will notice an improvement in your communication. Determiners help us to express ourselves more clearly. For more ways to speak better English, IQ Global has designed English Voice. This A1 - C1 General English course will improve your understanding of grammar and expand your vocabulary!
At IQ Global, we strive to offer you interactive ways to improve your English, and English Voice is just one of our courses, and we have a taster at each level, absolutely free. Just sign up to the website to access this amazing free content and try before you buy!
We hope you have enjoyed this blog. As always, you will progress more by reading, listening and practising your English so make sure you check out IQ Global for free resources and our YouTube channel. See you next time!