30 April, 2011

Numerals and Determiners


Numerals and Determiners

Nouns are often preceded by the words the, a, or an. These words are called DETERMINERS. They indicate the kind of reference which the noun has. The determiner the is known as the DEFINITE ARTICLE. It is used before both singular and plural nouns:
Singular              Plural
the taxi                the taxis
the paper             the papers
the apple             the apples

The determiner a (or an, when the following noun begins with a vowel) is the INDEFINITE ARTICLE. It is used when the noun is singular:
  • a taxi
  • a paper
  • an apple
The articles the and a/an are the most common determiners, but there are many others:
  • any tax
  • that question
  • those apples
  • this paper
  • some apple
  • whatever taxi
  • whichever taxi
Many determiners express quantity:
  • all examples
  • both parents
  • many people
  • each person
  • every night
  • several computers
  • few excuses
  • enough water
  • no escape
Perhaps the most common way to express quantity is to use a numeral. We look at numerals as determiners in the next section.
Numerals and Determiners

Numerals are determiners when they appear before a noun. In this position, cardinal numerals express quantity:
  • one book
  • two books
  • twenty books
In the same position, ordinal numerals express sequence:
  • first impressions
  • second chance
  • third prize
The subclass of ordinals includes a set of words which are not directly related to numbers (as first is related to one, second is related to two, etc). These are called general ordinals, and they include last, latter, next, previous, and subsequent. These words also function as determiners:
  • next week
  • last orders
  • previous engagement
  • subsequent developments
When they do not come before a noun, as we've already seen, numerals are a subclass of nouns. And like nouns, they can take determiners:
  • the two of us
  • the first of many
They can even have numerals as determiners before them:
  • five twos are ten
In this example, twos is a plural noun and it has the determiner five before it.

Pronouns and Determiners
There is considerable overlap between the determiner class and the subclass of pronouns. Many words can be both:
           Pronoun                                             Determiner
  • This is a very boring book.                 This book is very boring.
  • That's an excellent film.                       That film is excellent
As this table shows, determiners always come before a noun, but pronouns are more independent than this. They function in much the same way as nouns, and they can be replaced by nouns in the sentences above:
  • This is a very boring book. ~Ivanhoe is a very boring book.
  • That's an excellent film. ~Witness is an excellent film.
On the other hand, when these words are determiners, they cannot be replaced by nouns:
  • This book is very boring. ~*Ivanhoe book is very boring.
  • That film is excellent. ~*Witness film is excellent.
The personal pronouns (I, you, he, etc) cannot be determiners. This is also true of the possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his/hers, ours, and theirs). However, these pronouns do have corresponding forms which are determiners:

Possessive Pronoun                              
  • The white car is mine.                              
  • Yours is the blue coat.                              
  • The car in the garage is his/hers.                 
  • David's house is big, but ours is bigger.       
  • Theirs is the house on the left.                     
  • My car is white.
  • Your coat is blue.
  • His/her car is in the garage.
  • Our house is bigger than David's.
  • Their house is on the left.
The definite and the indefinite articles can never be pronouns. They are always determiners.


The Ordering of Determiners
Determiners occur before nouns, and they indicate the kind of reference which the nouns have. Depending on their relative position before a noun, we distinguish three classes of determiners.
I met                              
Central Determiner

A sentence like this is somewhat unusual, because it is rare for all three determiner slots to be filled in the same sentence. Generally, only one or two slots are filled.
Predeterminers specify quantity in the noun which follows them, and they are of three major types:

1. "Multiplying" expressions, including expressions ending in times:
  • twice my salary
  • double my salary
  • ten times my salary
2. Fractions
  • half my salary
  • one-third my salary
3. The words all and both:
  • all my salary
  • both my salaries
Predeterminers do not normally co-occur:
*all half my salary
Central Determiners

The definite article the and the indefinite article a/an are the most common central determiners:
  • all the book
  • half a chapter
As many of our previous examples show, the word my can also occupy the central determiner slot. This is equally true of the other possessives:
  • all your money
  • all his/her money
  • all our money
  • all their money
The demonstratives, too, are central determiners:
  • all these problems
  • twice that size
  • four times this amount
Cardinal and ordinal numerals occupy the postdeterminer slot:
  • the two children
  • his fourth birthday
This applies also to general ordinals:
  • my next project
  • our last meeting
  • your previous remark
  • her subsequent letter
Other quantifying expressions are also postdeterminers:
  • my many friends
  • our several achievements
  • the few friends that I have
Unlike predeterminers, postdeterminers can co-occur:
  • my next two projects
  • several other people
Some Notes on Quantifiers
Like articles, quantifiers are words that precede and modify nouns. They tell us how many or how much. Selecting the correct quantifier depends on your understanding the distinction between Count and Non-Count Nouns. For our purposes, we will choose the count noun trees and the non-count noun dancing:
The following quantifiers will work with count nouns:
  • many trees
  • a few trees
  • few trees
  • several trees
  • a couple of trees
  • none of the trees
The following quantifiers will work with non-count nouns:
  • not much dancing
  • a little dancing
  • little dancing
  • a bit of dancing
  • a good deal of dancing
  • a great deal of dancing
  • no dancing
The following quantifiers will work with both count and non-count nouns:
  • all of the trees/dancing
  • some trees/dancing
  • most of the trees/dancing
  • enough trees/dancing
  • a lot of trees/dancing
  • lots of trees/dancing
  • plenty of trees/dancing
  • a lack of trees/dancing
In formal academic writing,
Determiner Usage

*If part of a noun phrase then use “the German language”, etc.


roro204 said...

Thank u doctor.

Dr. Shadia Y. Banjar said...

You made my day!