Determiners are the short words like a, the, this that come at the beginning of (or "specify") a noun phrase. In English, determiners fill the gap in the noun phrases ______ small boy, _____ three people so that these phrases can be used freely as the subject or object in a sentence. Determiners differ from adjectives in the following ways:

For the above reasons, beware of using terms like 'possessive adjective' or 'demonstrative adjective' to refer to determiners.

Determiners in French

We class the following as determiners in French:

un, unea
le, la, l', lesthe
du, de la, de l', des, desome, any
ce, cette, ces, cetthis, that
aucun, acuneno
mon, ma, mesmy
ton, ta, tesyour
son, sa, seshis/her/its/one's
notre, nosour
votre, vosyour
leur, leurstheir
quelquesa few
Other plural numerals?see below

Form of determiners

Use of determiners in French

In English, determiners are optional with plural nouns and uncountable nouns: we need (some) milk; I don't have (any) scissors. In French, determiners are generally required to specify all noun phrases unless that noun phrase consists of a proper name (e.g. place name, person's name, name of a product).

Classification of numerals

The categorisation of numerals is ambiguous. They can behave as determiners in that they must occur before any adjectives, and that they make a noun phrase referential. However, they behave as adjectives in that they can occur with a determiner: these three men. Christensen et al (1995) suggest that such words should be analysed as a class of determiners that can be combined (p. 142), which seems to almost defeat the point of the category. An alternative view is that numerals can be either determiners or adjectives (Jones (1996), p. 212). A drawback that I see with this analysis is that determiners appear to be a closed category were it not for numerals.

Christensen et al (1995) also class autre(s) and même(s) as determiners, but there is little syntactic justification for this as far as I can see.