Determiners – What is a determiner

What is a determiner? Determiners are a class of words which include: articles, possessive adjectives (my, his, her, its, our, your, their), demonstratives (this/that, these/those) and quantifiers.

The essence of determiners is that they tell us if a noun-phrase is specific or general. Therefore they must come before a noun.

As we looked at articles last week in this post, we will not go over them again here.

Possessive adjectives

Possessive adjectives show what belongs to, or is related to something else.

my, his, its, our, your, their etc.

My writing is improving.

The man jumped out of his skin when a spider presented its fangs.


demonstratives differentiate between things that are near and far because that is important to have a category for words that do this…

Near: this, these. Far: that, those

It seems that that doesn’t necessarily indicate Far. What is that on your face!

What shall we do this weekend? (close)

Do you recall what the weather was like that weekend we went to France? (Far)


From the name, it should be easy to guess what these do.

They come before a noun and tell us about the number, or quantity of the noun in question.

No, none, either, neither, any, both, few, little, etc.

How many new followers will I gain due to this post? Any? None?

As Bilbo Baggins said: ‘I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve’

The above is an example as to why the English language is so complicated. I am a native English speaker and do not understand anywhere near all of it. It seems as if there is a lot of overlap in these categories.

For example that could be a pronoun, demonstrative, adverb and a conjunction. The key would be where it appears in the sentence and what it precedes as to what category of speech it would fall under.

Adjectives and what they are


a.k.a describing words

Adjectives often destroy a sentence. You could have an exquisite sentence only to be ruined by the overuse of clumsy bewildering adjectives.

Adjectives describe nouns or pronouns and tell us something about them.

They do not modify verbs, adverbs or other adjectives.

If you want to sound sophisticated and sanctimonious, you can derive adjectives from proper nouns. Simply add the suffix (a morpheme (a unit of language that cannot be further divided) to the end of a word derivative) an/ian/ean.

Elizabeth → Elizabethan

Shakespeare → Shakespearean

Dickens → Dickensian

the ‘an/ian/ean’ means ‘of or pertaining to.’

you can also add ‘esque’ to mean ‘in the style of.’

Dante → Dantesque

Franz Kafka → Kafkaesque

Adjectives come in 3 forms: absolute, comparative and superlative.


Absolute adjectives describe something in its own right.

A great writer.

A beautiful women

That clumsy cat


comparative adjectives, compare things!

A better writer

A clumsier cat


Superlative adjectives indicate something has the highest level of quality.

The best writer

The clumsiest cat

Coordinate adjectives

Here is one for the grammar nerds

You have coordinate adjectives when they both modify the same noun in a sentence. The adjectives should be separated by a comma or the word ‘and’.

This is a long, meandering blog post.

This bloggers tireless and dedicated attempt to learn to write is remarkable.


Many words can join together to form an adjective. If they contain a subject and a verb, they are known as an adjectival clause.

My fellow bloggers, who are much better at writing than me, are more successful.

If the clause doesn’t contain the subject and verb, then you have yourself an adjectival phrase.

This blog was not too terrible.

Sometimes, a noun can become an adjective depending on where it is positioned in a sentence. For example ‘guide’ is normally a noun but in the following sentence, it functions as an adjective.

Never try to pet someone’s guide-dog without asking permission first.

This example was taken from this blog

A general rule for the use of Adjectives is to not use them unless they do something.

Verbs and their sub-classes

Without verbs not much happens

I school

I home

You me

With the verb

I love school

I walked home

you love me

Verbs like other elements of speech have been classified into, nice, easily-forgettable categories, for our learning pleasure. First I need to take a quick detour to talk about infinitives.

An infinitive form a verb is no specific such as the preposition – more on these in another post – ‘to’ and the verb be. To be or not to be. This is the infinitive form of the verb as it is not specific. The infinitive form of the verb has meaning but it is not specific.

To make an infintive into a finitive form of the verb – because this is what we do sometimes – we need an auxiliary verb or we need to conjugate the verb.

To confidently conjugate (*wink*) a verb you change the ending of it which changes the meaning.

Conjugate verbs

Conjugate verbs have been changed to communicate person, number, gender, tense, aspect, mood, or voice. More on this here

I write: he wrote

Auxiliary verbs

auxiliary verbs help to specify time and number.

I am writing: He was writing: he has written.

Now we have the finitive form of the verb and it is specific

Why should you care if it is finitive or infinitive? Well, generally infinitive verbs do not show tense, number or person, whereas, the fintive form of the verb does not. Okay, I’m moving on.

Action verbs

Even I can guess this one, action verbs indicate an action!

I wrote

You read

Non-action Verbs

Non-action verbs canindicate a state of being, sense, emotion, desire, possession, or opinion.

To be – shows a state of being

I am a good writer? – opinion?

My Audience loves me? – emotion

Verb tenses

verbs change to indicate past present and future.

I am writing – present

I have written – past participle

I will write – future

If you’re wondering what a past participle is, it is the past form of the verb; and these usually end in -ed,-d,-t,-en, or-n

I am not going to go into participles here, because I haven’t learnt about them yet!

Verb moods

Once again, as you should be used to by now, there are sub-categories! We have Indicative, imperative and subjunctive

indicative verb mood is the most common. It is used for statements of fact or opinion or for a question.

I student is likely to be stressed?

The earth is flat.

The imperative mood is used to command. Subjects are often implied in imperative moods

go over there! – you

the subjunctive verb mood is used to express a verb with an action or state that is doubtful, imagined, conditional, desired, or hypothetical.

I wish I were better at writing.