The main difference between articles and determiners is that all three articles existing in the English language are considered determiners but not all the determiners are articles.
An article is basically a word we use to modify or describe a noun. An article appears before the noun and shows whether a particular noun refers to something specific or not. In the English language, the function of a determiner is quite similar to the function of an article. We use a determiner to indicate something about a noun or to introduce a noun. However, there are several types of determiners found in the English Language. Articles are only one such group.
Key Areas Covered
1. What are Articles
– Definition, Features
2. What are Determiners
– Definition, Features
3. Similarities Between Articles and Determiners
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Articles and Determiners
– Comparison of Key Differences
What are Articles
An article is basically a word that modifies or describes the noun. Generally, an article is placed before a noun. The main function of an article is to indicate whether it refers to something specific or not. Therefore, in a way, articles can also be equated to determiners, which tell us something about the noun.
There are two types of articles existing in the English language: definite articles and indefinite articles. ‘The’ is a definite article in the English language. It is used both with singular and plural nouns. Here the term ‘definite’ highlights the idea of being exact and obvious regarding something. Therefore, the basic function of a definite article is to indicate that the noun is specific. For example:
The butterfly is on the lotus.
The frog jumped into the pond.
In contrast, there are two indefinite articles in the English language: ‘a’ and ‘an’. We use indefinite articles to talk about nouns that are not specific or obvious. The term ‘indefinite’ suggests that the identity of the person or the thing being spoken about remains unclear.
Do you have a colour pencil?
I want to have a piece of cake.
In brief, in the English language, the indefinite article ‘a’ is used with singular nouns beginning with a consonant sound, whereas ‘an’ is used before a singular noun beginning with a vowel sound.
What are Determiners
In the English language, a determiner is a word used to introduce a noun or to provide information about the quantity of a noun. Similar to the articles, determiners always appear before nouns and come before any other adjectives used to describe the noun. Determiners usually occur before a singular noun but are optional when it comes to plural nouns.
There exist four main types of determiners in the English language. They are articles, demonstratives, quantifiers, and possessives. The three articles ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘the’ are among the most frequently used determiners in the English language. The demonstratives, ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘these’, and ‘those’ allow the speaker to point at the item they are talking about, making the item even more specific than a definite article.
Further, quantifiers such as ‘all’, ‘few’ and ‘many’ indicate how much the noun is being discussed while possessive adjectives, including ‘my’, ‘your’, ‘his’, ‘her’, ‘its’, ‘our’, and ‘their’, are used to show ownership when referring to a noun.
Similarities Between Articles and Determiners
- Both articles and determiners describe nouns in the English language.
- Moreover, you can usually find articles and determiners in front of a noun.
Difference Between Articles and Determiners
Determiners are a group of words that we use to describe nouns. Articles are one subcategory that falls under the larger group, determiners.
There are four main types of determiners in the English language: demonstratives, articles, quantifiers, and possessives, whereas there are two types of articles: definite articles and indefinite articles.
In brief, the main difference between articles and determiners is that determiners are a group of words we use to describe nouns, whereas articles are a subcategory that falls under determiners. Simply put, in the English language, not all determiners are articles, but all articles are determiners.
1. Shrives, Craig. “Determiner | What Is a Determiner?” Grammar Monster.
1. “EGG-Determiner” By Robbiemuffin – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia
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