Usage of Determiners – Part 1- Verbal with Sujit

Determiners are the broad classification of words such as articles,quantifiers, and certain other similar words ( possesive, demonstrative). They invariably come before a noun or a noun phrase.

Articles : A, An, The

Quantifiers : All, both ,many, each, every, several, few, a few, quite a few, enough, no, little, a little, some, a bit of, a couple of, none of, a good el of, a lot of, lots of, plenty of, a lack of.

Demonstrative : Any, that, those, this, some, whatever, whichever.

Possessive: my, your, our, their, her, his etc.

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Note: Some of the determiners listed above are also pronouns (my, your, our etc). Their function in a sentence makes them either a determiner or a pronoun. When the word can be easily replaced by a noun it is a pronoun, otherwise it is a determiner.

1) Indian Mobile Phone Market OR The Indian Mobile Phone Market?

Remember: If the noun is countable and singular, it must always be preceded by an article.

The noun phrase Indian mobile phone market is eminently countable. Hence a determiner is a must before it.

Correct: The Indian mobile phone market has been flourishing since 1995.

The‘ is not normally used if the noun is plural or countable, when things or people are mentioned in a general way.

Correct: People are against the government policy.

Incorrect: The people are against the government policy.

2) The traffic in Mumbai OR traffic in Mumbai?

Use the article with uncountable nouns when referring to a particular incidence of that noun.

Correct: The traffic in Mumbai is a problem.

Correct: The traffic this morning was heavy.

3) A job always takes an indefinite article (a/an), as do classification of people or objects into types:

Correct: Parag is an academic.

Correct: A phone is also a camera.

4) Uncountable nouns cannot be used with a/an:

Incorrect: I need an advice

Correct: I need some advice.

5) The is used with things already identified and recognized.

Correct: I bought a pen yesterday. I lost the pen on my way back.


Use of the indefinite article ‘an’

The use of an depends upon the pronunciation, not spelling.

Count Nouns beginning with a vowel (a/e/i/o/u) will take the indefinite article.

eg.  an impossible question, an open door.

A word ( count noun singular) beginning with ‘h’ often requires the indefinite article because the ‘h’ sound is silent but the beginning sound is that of a vowel.

eg: an hour, an honour.

If the ‘h’ is pronounced, use the indefinite article ‘a’.

eg. a history book, a historian.

More on the use of articles:

1) Do not use articles with: tables, figures appendices, chapters, figures.

2) a noun after an ‘s’ posessive:

Correct: India’s Prime Minister

Incorrect: The India’s Prime Minister.

3)With days and months, unless you are talking about a particular day or month. eg. The test is in November; it will take a place on Sunday.

4) With television/radio when you are referring to the medium.

eg. Television is powerful medium.- if you use an article ‘ television’ will mean a television set.

5) With titles when name is used along with the title.

Correct: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Incorrect: The Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

6) Use the definite articles with the following kinds of proper nouns:

Newspapers: The Times of India, The Economic Times

Public Institutions: The legislature, The Taj Hotel.

Pluralised Names: The Himalayas, The Birlas.

7) Zero Article.

Several kinds of nouns never use articles.

a) plural and countable nouns referring to things in general.

Correct: I am afraid of heights.

Incorrect: I am afraid of the heights.

b) before countries, towns, streets, languages and single mountains.

Correct: I’ve climbed Mount Everest.

Incorrect: I’ve climbed the Mount Everest.

c) with time of the day.

Correct: We study mostly by night.

Incorrect: We study mostly by the night.


This excerpt has been reproduced from the book “The Pearson Guide to Verbal Ability for the CAT and other MBA Entrance Examinations” by Sujit Kumar  published by Dorling Kindersley India Pvt Ltd, licensees of Pearson Education in South Asia. The content has been reproduced with permission from the author.


The author has a vast experience in training students appearing for various competitive exams. He has been preparing candidates for Verbal Ability, Group Discussion and Personal Interview for more than a decade. Apart from holding a diploma in management and corporate experience of more than 10 years, the author holds a masters degree in English Literature. He is currently working with CPLC,Mumbai as a Faculty and a part of the senior management.

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