A determiner is a word that shows us the noun in a sentence – a, an, the, each, many, every, these, those – and even a number!
AN apple was given to EACH child EVERY day for THREE weeks.
✔ THE is known as the DEFINITE ARTICLE – it refers to a particular item.
I would like THE apple. (You want a particular apple – I bet it’s that juicy red one!)
(Note: Although we can also use the words this, those and these to denote a specific noun or nouns, they AREN’T definite articles – only ‘the’ is known by this term. This, those and these are sometimes known as ‘demonstrative determiners’ – imagine that you are demonstrating what you are talking about by pointing to them! You don’t need to know this for Year 6 SATs!)
✔ A and AN are known as INDEFINITE ARTICLES – they don’t refer to a specific item.
I would like AN apple. (You would like any apple. You’re not bothered which one!)
It’s easy to work out whether you need to use A or AN in front of a noun as long as you know your vowels – A E I O and U! If a noun begins with a vowel, you use AN – if it doesn’t, you use A!
I placed AN orange on A plate. (Orange begins with a vowel, so you use ‘an’, whereas plate begins with a consonant, so you use ‘a’!)
(Note: The determiners my, your, his, her, its, our, their, whose are known as ‘possessive determiners’ because they show that the noun belongs to someone or something. You don’t need to know this for Year 6 SATs either!)