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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: 
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 taxi 
      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.  

In each of the following sentences, indicate whether the highlighted word is a numeral or a determiner:  

1. Five twos are ten Numeral  
2. Seven is my lucky number Numeral  
3. Each team consists of eleven players Numeral  
4. They've invited me to a second interview Numeral  
5. He was the last to arrive, as usual Numeral  

More on Determiners...


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