Sunday, January 28, 2018

Structure Class Words: Determiners

Determiners (See list on page 101 of your text)

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, and will never appear in the predicate adjective position. That is, we don’t normally see sentences like Fred is that, or Fred is my.
·        Determiners do not fit in both slots of the adjective test sentence: The ________ man seems very ___________.

Other difference between adjectives and determiners:

·       Adjectives have primarily three functions: they modify noun phrases, or complement the object or subject of a sentence.
·       The function of a determiner is to express proximity, relationship, quantity, and definiteness.
·       Determiners are usually necessary (or obligatory) in a sentence, whereas adjectives are not.

A useful test to decide whether a word is a determiner is to try replacing the word with an article -- with a, an, or the. If the word can be replaced by an article, it is probably a determiner.
Ivy broke that dish yesterday.
The bright red truck was speeding.
I like many books.

As we can see, the first and third are determiners; in the middle example (red truck), red is clearly an adjective, but not a determiner.

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, some 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 it functions as a predicative nominative in this sentence, and thus is functioning as noun. See page 104 in your text for the nominal/noun forms of possessive determiners.)


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