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A type of adjective??[edit]

I guess, much like "tidal wave", "adjective" also has dictionary senses and technical senses. In the technical senses, articles such as "the" and "a" are definitely not adjectives since, as stated in our own article on adjectives, they do not modify or describe nouns or pronouns.

It could well be that in common nontechnical use, or in older use pertaining to Latin and such, that no such distinctions were made.

However, "determiner" is only in technical use as far as I know and as such has no nontechnical meaning as a "type of adjective". This just makes no sense.

I am open to citations showing that what I have said is wrong. That evidence should be shown here. — Hippietrail 02:28, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)

There are different ways of dividing the parts of speech. Traditionally, determiners weren't included (because they were classed as adjectives). The term "determiner" is a recent innovation. The Oxford Companion to the English Language (OCEL) draws a distinction between parts of speech (= the traditional classification, where the term 'determiners' wasn't used) and word classes (= the new classification). This distinction is not universally made, however.

  • "Article": "a traditional part of speeh, in contemporary grammar often included in the word class determiner" (OCEL)
  • "Determiner": "Determiners include the articles and words traditionally classified as types of adjective or pronoun" (OCEL)
  • "Part of speech": "Traditional grammars list eight parts of speech: noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, interjection." (OCEL)
  • "Article": "A name for the adjectives the and a, an" (excerpt from the Oxford English Dictionary's definition of "article").
  • The OED itself, and many (but not all), modern dictionaries use the traditional eight parts of speech. For example, if you look up "the" in the OED, it is marked as "dem. adj. and pron." If you look up "some", you see "indef. pron., a., adv., and sb."

-- 12:21, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)

As of the March 2008 draft revisions, the OED now employs determiner in this way. Check out many for example.--Brett 01:12, 24 May 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for this info. It should help us to develop both our definitions and our own classification system. — Hippietrail 13:57, 15 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps we should have two categories. One called "English parts of speech (traditional)" (if that isn't too long a name). (These would be the eight in the OCEL list, and would exclude article, which is at least arguably a subtype of adjective, as the OED says.) There were nine traditional parts of speech in Latin (the eight plus participles, which in English are just considered a form of the verb), so it's not possible to do away with the word "English" in the category name. Then we need a second category called something else ("English parts of speech (modern)"? "English word classes"? or the broader "grammatical terms"?), which would include "determiner", "article", and probably many other terms that didn't make it into the traditional list.
By the way: even under wiktionary's definition of adjective, articles and other determiners are (arguably) adjectives, if you accept that in phrases like "the man" and "few men", the words "the" and "few" are modifying the noun. I think they are indeed modifying it (in a technical sense), even if they are not describing it. In any case, a determiner like "many" has a very similar semantic content to an undisputed adjective like "numerous".
This confuses adjective and modifier. If you call any word that modifies a noun an adjective, then all English nouns are adjectives.--BrettR 01:25, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
Parts of speech can be notoriously difficult to define. At school they used to tell us that an adjective was "a describing word" (if that were true, "idiot" would be an adjective, because when I say "he's an idiot", I'm describing him) and a verb was an "action word" (if that were true, numerous nouns would be verbs!). In reality, a part of speech must be defined by its grammatical function, not by its meaning. --Richard 10:52, 16 Jan 2005 (UTC)

For the difference between an adjective and a determiner, see the wikipedia article.--BrettR 01:31, 27 October 2006 (UTC)


I have a question c.q. remark: As someone, who didn't grow up in an english-speaking country and who didn't major in English, I don't know all English words (who does?). And so, if I encounter a word, that I don't know, I have to look it up in a dictionary. And reading the explanation of 'determiner' I encountered such a word in the third sentence of the first explanation, that I couldn't find in a dictionary, nor in wiktionary. 'Its core memebers include articles and other items that fill the same slot....' The word is.... 'memebers'.

Or... should it possibly be... 'members'?

And please... if this should not be the place, where to put my question cq remark... don't ban me. For I don't know, where else to put it.

Helmarsan 10 June 2007

Yes, members. Misspelling.--Halliburton Shill 17:49, 10 June 2007 (UTC)

missing determiner[edit]

most? --Connel MacKenzie 02:58, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)


Dafuq is "Ladin"? How did this page miss a spell check? 19:15, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

See w:Ladin, and w:Ladin language. DCDuring TALK 19:18, 29 November 2014 (UTC)

RFV passed.[edit]

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This entry has survived Wiktionary's verification process.

Please do not re-nominate for verification without comprehensive reasons for doing so.


First sense as "a grammatical class of words". The only reference given on the page (the Cambrdige Grammar of the English Language) explicitly refutes this definition, reserving determinative as the term for the class of words and using determiner solely for the grammatical function (regardless of the part of speech). --EncycloPetey 19:24, 25 February 2007 (UTC)

The CGEL has to explicitly deny they're working with that definition, because if they didn't, most linguists reading would assume that's exactly what they meant. The entire distinction between the "class of words" sense and the "function" sense only makes sense within certain approaches to grammatical description. Even among people who make the distinction, the RFV'd sense is probably the more common.
(I'll also go add the too-obvious literal/compositional sense.) -- Keffy 20:23, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
Please comment then in the corresponding BP discussion (Determiner vs Determinative), as I don't have the background to make the evaluation from anything other than the CGEL discussion (since that's all I have on "dtereminers"). If "determiner" is the usual term in use by linguists, then that's what we should use. --EncycloPetey 20:33, 25 February 2007 (UTC)
I find this curious regarding the "too-obvious literal" sense. It's not in Roget's or Oxford's thesari. Both MW and Cambridge dictionaries only list the "specialzed" grammar sense. Google news returns only 19 uses, the oldest being a 1/30 article mocking a certain presidential "decider". I think the proper term here is determinant, which returns about 633.--Halliburton Shill 10:14, 27 February 2007 (UTC)
Collins Word Exchange: determiner noun 1. a word, such as a number, article, personal pronoun, that determines (limits) the meaning of a noun phrase, e.g. their in `their black cat'.
Encarta online: de·ter·min·er (plural de·ter·min·ers) noun Definition: 1. word that determines noun use: a word that appears before any descriptive adjective and decides the kind of reference that a noun has, e.g. "a," "the," "this," "each," "some," "either," "my," and "your"
M-W online: Main Entry: de·ter·min·er Pronunciation: -'t&r-m&-n&r Function: noun : one that determines : as ... b : a word (as an article, possessive, demonstrative, or quantifier) that makes specific the denotation of a noun phrase
Hippietrail 20:07, 13 April 2007 (UTC)

RFV passed (not cited, unfortunately, but in clearly widespread use; this is the primary sense of the term). —RuakhTALK 17:51, 1 June 2007 (UTC)

Grammar, first use?[edit]

  • Here: "(grammar) A member of a class of words functioning in a noun phrase to identify or distinguish a referent without describing or modifying it. [from 1945] Examples of determiners include articles (a, the)"
  • At en.wp: "According to the OED (Second Edition), the word determiner was first used in its grammatical sense by Leonard Bloomfield in 1933." [well, in which grammatical sense, en.wt has 2?]
  • Andrew Radford, Transformational Grammar: A First Course: "In his classic work Language, Leonard Bloomfield (1935, pp. 203-6) lists the following types of Determiner in English: [...]" - though: Did he call them determiners or did he just list some words?

-IP, 00:10, 27 April 2015 (UTC)