Determiners are important modifiers. It is an element in the English grammar that often appears before a noun to change its meaning, or context. Adjectives and adverbs are examples of modifiers. Modifiers are essential determinants of the noun. Types of determiners include articles, demonstratives, possessives, and quantifiers. Articles such as a, an, and the are the most common types of determiners.

Demonstratives such as that, these, this, and those are used to point to specific things. Possessives such as my, its, their, and theirs are used to show that something belongs to another. Lastly, we have the quantifiers. Nouns that show how much or how little of something is are called quantifiers.

In this lesson, we will be focusing on quantifiers as determinants of the noun, especially countables and uncountables.

Determinants of the Noun: Countables

determinants of the noun - countables and uncountables
These apples are red.

Countables are anything that can be counted individually. They can have a singular or plural form. The base form of a noun is its singular form. While the plural form of a countable noun may be formed by adding –s or ­–es after the base form of the word.

Add –s to most words.

  • apples
  • beds
  • laptops
  • dogs
  • bottles

If the noun ends with a –y, or –quy, remove the y and change it to –ies.

  • activity – activities
  • berry – berries
  • enemy – enemies
  • colloquy – colloquies
  • soliloquy – soliloquies

For nouns that end with a vowel + y, just add –s.

  • chimney – chimneys
  • boy – boys
  • essay – essays
  • survey – surveys
  • play – plays

 

Use the following determiners with singular or plural countable nouns.

For singular countable nouns:

A, An

Use a if the following noun starts with a consonant sound.

  • Jaimie asked me to buy him a sandwich before going home.
  • While cleaning the attic, I found an old picture of grandma when she was a teenager.

Then, use an if the following noun starts with a vowel sound.

  • I saw an oven that would be perfect for our kitchen at the appliance center
  • There’s an honesty kiosk in the park. (*Note: ‘honesty’ starts with a consonant, but it has a vowel sound. Therefore, ‘an’ is used instead of ‘a’.)

Each

Use each to refer to individual pieces of a group of countable nouns.

  • Each employee will receive a bonus at the end of the quarter.
  • Each puppy had their own chew toy.

Every

Use every to refer to the whole members of a group.

  • Every book on the shelf has been sorted.
  • K. Rowling is known to reply to every letter that is sent to her.

This, That

Use this if the object you are referring to is close to you.

  • This shirt is my favorite.
  • I didn’t know that this comb belonged to you.

Meanwhile, use that if the object you are referring to is far from you.

  • Our principal owns that blue car parked in front of the tree.
  • Mark went to buy ice cream at that store.

For plural countable nouns:

A Few, Few, Fewer

If you want to describe a small amount or portion of something, use a few, few, or fewer as determinants of the noun.

  • Peralta has been teaching for ten years, but only a few students know his first name.
  • Few people came to attend the seminar.
  • There are fewer eggs than I remember.

A Lot of, Lots of, Plenty of

On the other hand, if you want to describe a large amount or portion of something, use a lot of, lots of, or plenty of as determinants of the noun.

  • I’ve taught a lot of students, in my years as a college instructor.
  • The mall is the place to be, lots of designer brands are having a sale!
  • We can still catch the show as there are plenty of empty seats in the theater.

All

Next, use all to refer to whole or entire group.

  • I have read all of the Harry Potter books in just three days.
  • Danny owns all of The Beatles

Both

Next, use both to refer to one as well as the other when presented with two choices.

  • Both of us are coming to the party.
  • I couldn’t decide, so I chose both dresses.

Enough

If you want to refer to an amount that is equal to what is needed, then, use enough as the determinant of the noun.

  • There are enough clean towels for the guests.
  • I have enough chalk to last one class.

Many, More

Use many and more to refer to an amount that exceeds what is needed.

  • The library houses so many books.
  • According to studies, there are more mountain gorillas now then there were ten years ago.

These, Those

Use these if the objects you are referring to are close to you. This is the plural form of this.

  • These shirts are my favorite.
  • I didn’t know that these bags belonged to you.

Meanwhile, use those if the objects you are referring to are far from you. This is the plural form of that.

  • Those cows grazing on the meadow belongs to my brother.
  • You may use those old magazines for your art project.

For both singular and plural countable nouns:

Some, Any

If you want to refer to a portion of a group, or a portion of an individual object, use some or any as determinants of the noun.

  • You can have some of this carrot, if you like.
  • You can have some of these carrots, if you like.
  • I don’t have any regrets in my life.
  • Choose any of my paintings, and I will give it to you for free.

The

Lastly, use the to refer to an individual, or to a whole group.

  • Please bring me the cup on top of the counter.
  • I had to chaperone the students for a whole day.

 

Determinants of the Noun: Uncountables

determinants of the noun - countables and uncountables count noun
Strawberries go well with a teaspoon of sugar.

Uncountables are anything that cannot be counted individually. Unlike countables, they are always singular in form. Most uncountable nouns usually come in the form of liquids, abstract ideas, feelings, and natural phenomena.

Some determinants of the noun are the following.

A Little, Little, Less

If you want to quantify a small amount of uncountables, use a little, little, or less as determinants of the noun.

  • I have a little water left in my canteen.
  • There’s little food in the country.
  • We should aim to spend less time facing our computers.

A Lot, Lots of, Plenty of

If you want to quantify a large amount of uncountables, use a lot, lots of, or plenty of as determinants of the noun.

  • I’ve given a lot of thought in making this decision.
  • Disneyland can provide us with lots of fun, that is, if you’re willing to get soaked in the sun.
  • You can ride with us, there’s plenty of room in our car.

All, All the

Use all or all the to refer to the whole group of uncountable nouns.

  • You can have all the time in the world, but it won’t be the same if you’re all alone.
  • I’ve given you all my love, and this is how you repay me?

Any, Some

Use any or some to refer to a portion of a group of uncountable nouns.

  • Can I have some spaghetti?
  • Don’t just load your computer with any software.

Enough

Use enough to refer to an amount that is equal to what is needed.

  • There is enough garbage to fill a dumpsite.
  • There is enough fuel to make the trip home.

Much, More, Most

Use much, more, or most to describe a large amount of uncountable nouns.

  • The lady in the pink dress has shown much interest in your paintings.
  • Ask grandma to bake more bread.

The

Use the to generally refer to the noun.

  • You can find all the information you need in the library.
  • Can someone please help in bringing in the furniture?

This, That

Use this if the object you are referring to is close to you.

  • I left you this slice of bread.
  • Mike has tilled this piece of land since he was young.

Meanwhile, use that if the object you are referring to is far from you.

  • Were you the one who ordered that bowl of rice?
  • That soup smells delightful.

Native English speakers will have no trouble using the correct determiner with correct noun. However, as a learner of the English language, you may find this list overwhelming. But fear not, once you get accustomed to their uses, you will find that using them is just a piece of cake. Just remember, if you are having a hard time deciding whether a word is a countable or uncountable noun, all you have to do is to focus on the context of the word. Most especially if the word can be classified as both countable and uncountable. What do you think about this lesson? Did it help you in understanding nouns better? Tell us what you think in the comments.

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