Thursday, February 2, 2017

ENGL 3663: Determiners


A determiner is a structure class word that precedes and modified a noun. The prototypical examples are a, an, and the.

                Elvis baked a pie.
                Ivy gave the bear an apple.

Given that determiners modify nouns, we might think that they are just another kind of adjective. And it is true that they function in a minor way as adjectives – that is, Ivy gave the bear an apple is different from Ivy gave a bear an apple, which is different from Ivy gave six bears some apples.

But determiners differ from adjectives in several key ways.

·        Determiners don’t take any adjective-forming morphemes, such as –ly or –ish
·        Determiners don’t have comparative or superlative forms
·        Determiners don’t have predicative forms – that is, they always come before the noun (though other modifiers may intervene – as in Elvis baked the delicious apple pie.)
·        Determiners do not fit in both slots of the adjective test sentence: The ________ man seems very ___________.

Main determiners: (Page 101 in your text)

        Articles: a, an, the
        Demonstratives: this, that, these, those
        Possessives: my, our, your, his, her, its, their
        Indefinites: some, any, no, every, other, many, more, most…
                        (this is a large group – see p. 101)
        Cardinal and ordinal numbers: one, two, three… first, second…
        Quantifiers: twice, triple, half…

Special uses: When used by themselves, determiners can function as nouns.

        Give me that box. (Box is the object, that is its determiner)
        Give me that.    (That is the object.)
        Is this your jacket? (Jacket is the object, your is the determiner)
        Is this yours? (Yours is a determiner in form, but the predicative nominative of the sentence in function, and thus a noun.)

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