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Is determiner a part of speech?

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pharung | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 31, 2012 at 11:21 AM via web

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Is determiner a part of speech?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 31, 2012 at 1:35 PM (Answer #1)

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In English grammar there are 8 parts of speech:

  1. nouns
  2. pronouns
  3. verbs
  4. adjectives
  5. adverbs
  6. prepositions
  7. conjunctions
  8. interjections

Within the category of adjectives, however, there are different types.  For instance, there are descriptive and limiting adjectives.  Descriptive adjectives describe nouns as, for example,

  • Last night on the beach, we viewed a most resplendent sunset.

Resplendent is a descriptive adjective because it gives an account, or description of what the sunset looked like; it was gloriously bright.

On the other hand, limiting adjectives quantify adjectives. For example,

  • There were only ten people at the meeting last night.

This adjective, ten, indicates how many people were in attendance. 

Another way to categorize a large group of adjectives is to use the term determiner. Determiners are a broader category than descriptive or limiting; they are defined as

A word or a group of words that introduces a noun. Determiners include articles, demonstratives, quantifiers, and possessive determiners.

Notice that limiting adjectives are included here, but not descriptive.

  • Articles include a, an, and the
  • Demonstratives include this, that, these, and those
  • Quantifiers include cardinal [1,2,3, etc.) and ordinal (first, second, third, etc.) numbers, some, each, every, all, etc.
  • possessive pronouns that act as adjectives such as my, your, his/her, our, their

There are also what is called predeterminers, which are determiners that precede other determiners.  Such words as half, both, or all are commonly used predeterminers. 

e.g. The committee rejected half of the these proposals. [half =predeterminer, these=determiner]

It is important to note that the term determiner is NOT a part of speech. Rather, it is a term used with reference to the structure [syntax] of a sentence. That is, predeterminers and determiners both are functional elements of a sentence.

 

 

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