Explanation – Articles = Quantifiers + Determiners

Articles = Quantifiers + Determiners

Articles are the words a and the, but these are just the two most often used of two other kinds of words – quantifiers and determiners. A is the most often used quantifier and the is the most often used determiner.

This will be more interesting to you if you already know that you need to put something in front of nouns if they are particular/concrete/tangible/real. We usually start understanding this by saying that this something is either a or the. But actually that something can be any quantifier or determiner – any quantifier or determiner in front of nouns will mean that the nouns are particular/concrete/tangible/real – it isn’t only a and the that do this.

If you understand this, you shouldn’t be confused and wondering – “why isn’t there an article?” – when you see or want to use nouns that you know are particular/concrete/tangible/real without articles but with a quantifier or determiner instead.

Sorry, it’s complicated, I know, but God made it that way. 🙂



Quantifiers give nouns quantities (amounts, numbers). They are used to say that:

  • the noun is particular/concrete/tangible/real (vs. general/abstract/imaginary/the idea of something), and
  • that the listener does NOT know and can’t figure out which one or ones they are talking about – they are in other words random instances or examples of the noun – one or some of any.

Types Of Quantifiers

There are two types of qunatifiers – quantifiers that give exact quantities to nouns and others, unexact quantities. A gives an exact quantity – 1.

Exact quantifiers (examples):

* a (=1), 1, 14, 88, 1933…

Nonexact quantifiers (examples)

* some, a few, a lot of, many…



Speakers use determiners to tell listeners:

  • the noun is particular/concrete/tangible/real (vs. general/abstract/imaginary/the idea of something), and
  • the listener know which one or ones the speaker is talking about, or at least can figure out which one or ones he’s talking about – well enough


Besides the, there are two other types of determiners. We call these demonstrative adjectives and possessive adjectives.

The demonstrative adjectives (all of them):

* this, that, these those

The possessive adjectives:

* my, your, his/her/its, our, their + Bob’s, Sally’s, Gary’s…..