We use determiners in front of nouns to show what they refer to. The difference between \u201ca hat\u201d and \u201cmy hat,\u201d for instance, is that \u201cmy\u201d shows that the hat belongs to me. This makes determiners very important for clear communication, so make sure you know which terms to use in different situations.\n\nArticles (The \/ A \/ An)\nArticles are the most basic determiners to specify what you\u2019re discussing. They\u00a0come in two kinds: the definite article (\u201cthe\u201d) and the indefinite article (\u201ca\u201d or \u201can\u201d).\n\n\n \tThe definite article \u2013 \u201cthe\u201d \u2013 is used when we refer to something specific. If I say \u201cI am going to the library,\u201d for example, I have a particular library in mind (not just any library).\n \tThe indefinite article is used when not referring to a specific entity. If I go looking for \u201ca library,\u201d I\u2019m not searching for a specific library (any library will do).\n\nPossessives (My \/ Your \/ His \/ Her \/ Its \/ Our \/ Their)\nA possessive determiner indicates ownership, like with \u201cmy hat\u201d above. Other singular determiners include \u201cyour,\u201d \u201chis,\u201d \u201cher,\u201d and \u201cits.\u201d\nPlural determiners (i.e., determiners used to indicate something belongs to a group) include \u201cour\u201d (\u201cwelcome to our party!\u201d), \u201ctheir\u201d (\u201cI don\u2019t want to go to their party\u201d) and \u201cyour\u201d (\u201cI\u2019m glad I went to your party\u201d). Note that \u201cyour\u201d can be either\u00a0singular or plural.\n\nDemonstratives (This \/ That \/ These \/ Those)\nDemonstrative determiners usually tell us about the position of something relative to the speaker.\n\u201cThis\u201d (singular) and \u201cthese\u201d (plural) indicate something is close. \u201cThat\u201d (singular) and \u201cthose\u201d (plural) usually apply when something is far away.\n\n\n[caption id="attachment_1698" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Determiners (This, That, These, Those)[\/caption]\nAs with \u201cthe,\u201d demonstratives\u00a0are used when we refer\u00a0to something in particular (e.g., \u201cthis cake\u201d and \u201cthat cake\u201d both refer to a specific cake, unlike \u201ca cake\u201d).\nWe also use \u201cthis\u201d to refer to something we have just mentioned. This makes it possible to follow on from a preceding sentence without having to re-identify the thing being discussed.\n\nQuantifiers (All \/ Any \/ Some \/ Every)\nThis category of determiners includes a wide variety of terms relating to quantity, including \u201call,\u201d \u201cany,\u201d \u201cboth,\u201d \u201ceither,\u201d \u201cenough,\u201d \u201ca few,\u201d \u201csome,\u201d \u201cevery,\u201d and many others.\nLike \u201ca\u201d or \u201can,\u201d these words do not specify singular things, but nevertheless tell us something about the noun being described, usually to do with the number or quantity being discussed.\nIn the sentence \u201cI will cuddle every puppy,\u201d for example, \u201cevery\u201d shows I\u2019m referring to every single puppy in the room, in the world, or every puppy available.\nIn \u201cI will cuddle any puppy,\u201d meanwhile, the determiner \u201cany\u201d shows that, while I\u2019m happy to cuddle a puppy, I will not necessarily commit to cuddling all of them. No matter how adorable they are.\n\n[caption id="attachment_1699" align="aligncenter" width="300"] Sorry, little dude. You'll have to cuddle yourself. [Photo: Jonathon Kriz][\/caption]\nNumbers can also work as quantifiers, telling us exactly how many of something there is:\nShe has two large dogs at home.\nHe read 153 books last year.\nNumbers only count as quantifiers when they appear before a noun, though.\n\nProofreading for Grammar\nDeterminers can be tricky little words to master! But our editors are grammar and spelling experts, helping you to ensure your writing is always error free. Sign up for a free proofreading trial today and find out how our services work.