Talk:Determiner

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Problems[edit]

Under "English determiners" we have (emphasis added)

  • Demonstratives: this, that, these, those, which, etc. (when used with noun phrases)
Yes, this is a problem. It should NOT say "when used with noun phrases".--BrettR 02:14, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

yet under "Differences from pronouns" we are told

  • Determiners such as this, all, and some can often occur without a noun. In traditional grammar, these are called pronouns.

Which is it?

Also, the examples given to show that such "determiners" are not pronouns are not convincing.

1. The pronouns which can occur in tags is a limited set.

  • *Everyone has finished, haven't everyone?

2. Not all pronouns must come before the particle. Pick some up/Pick up some are both acceptable (although, admittedly, the latter sounds much better with continuation: Pick up some for me, OK?, etc.). (??)Pick up this is decidedly odd IMO.

some is a determiner.--BrettR 02:14, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Even in Pick up some of those chocolate donuts from the bakery, would you?? Are you saying that these words are always determiners and never pronouns? --RJCraig 14:15, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes. In fact, CGEL gives this "partative construction": ~ of the (noun) as a test for membership in the determiner (they call it determinative) category. There are only 4 words that are both determiners and pronouns: which, what, you, and we.--BrettR 16:15, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Thanks for the ref. I'll have a look later in the day. (Time to roll out the futon now, tho.) --RJCraig 18:04, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

The above point more to a subcategorization of pronouns than to any difference between determiners and pronouns. I therefore see no reason to not follow the traditional classification of these words as pronouns when not used with a noun.

Agreed, the distinction is a fine one here, but it's part of a coherent system that allows for headless noun phrases. This conceptualisation also applies to adjectives. If you allow headless noun phrases, then you can also deal with adjectives in the form of "the good, the bad, and the ugly". If you don't then you have to allow that almost every adjective has a corresponding noun form, a conclusion that isn't particularly parsimonious.--BrettR 02:14, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
The more I think about it, the less I see the connection here. I have no problem with headless noun phrases or their use in explaining adjectival examples such as the rich, etc. I'm just not yet convinced the same explanation need be extended to These are the good. --RJCraig 22:45, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm afraid I don't see the distinction your making. Another example?--BrettR 02:22, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
The distinction my making is simple. (Sorry! Couldn't resist!) Let's make sure I'm understanding what you're saying in the above, just to be safe. To wit: determiners such as these (in my example above) or some when used without a noun are NOT pronouns but remain determiners inside a headless noun phrase...similar to the structure posited for phrases with adjectives such as the rich or the good, the bad, and the ugly. Was that not the purpose in bringing up headless noun phrases? Please correct me if I have misunderstood your intent. --RJCraig 06:18, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
Yes...--BrettR 15:58, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

(Note also that the content here is not in accord with that of the external link.)

If there are no objections within a week or so, I will start editing. --RJCraig 19:33, 1 February 2007 (UTC)


Um...I haven't had a chance to go through the CGEL yet but will try to get to it today. Just an observation or two:

  1. It still needs to be pointed out that only certain pronouns are used in tags. This is a weak point at best. (Make last in list?)
    The only ones that I can think of are interogatives. All other pronouns occur in tags. The set of every~, any~, some~, no~ / ~body, ~one, ~thing, ~where is a bit odd, but clearly it is historically made up of a determiner + something else. Huddleston & Pullum group them with the determinatives.--BrettR 02:21, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
    Can you provide an example of a non-personal pronoun that is OK? I can't think of any. --RJCraig 06:18, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
    It's good, isn't it? (or do you classify this as a personal pronoun? Are you thinking of pronouns like 'today'? I guess I was overlooking those. Anything else?--BrettR 16:02, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
    Why in the world would you not classify it as a personal pronoun, even in its "dummy" usage? (Third-person singular neuter) And today is either a noun or an adverb in my book. What piece of evidence is used to prove it a pronoun?! --RJCraig 09:50, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
    Sorry. It is a personal pronoun. As for today, I think we're getting off topic. Pronouns that work in tags: personal pronouns, one, there. Pronouns that don't work: reciprocals, interogatives/relatives. That's all the pronouns, isn't it?--BrettR 12:41, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
  2. Does anyone really say Pick up this? (Dialectal difference?)
    It does seem odd, though it is attested. Huddleston & Pullum call this, that, these, those marginal cases and admit there are good arguments for putting them with pronouns sometimes. They, however, choose to say they are always detereminers. Perhaps a hedge and a different example.--BrettR 02:21, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
    Attested to what degree, would be my natural response. While I have a great deal of respect for Huddleston & Pullum and what they accomplished in the CGEL, the latter is not the last word on every issue. I believe the goal here would be to present a consensus of views. --RJCraig 06:18, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
    Very limited. Indeed a consensus of views is desireable.--BrettR 16:02, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

I changed the example for pronoun genitive forms since his might be a bit ambiguous. --RJCraig 22:45, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I see your point.--BrettR 02:21, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Differences from pronouns[edit]

Is the Determiner (class)#Differences from pronouns section correct? The following is an excerpt:

  1. Pronouns may occur in tag questions. Determiners can't.
    1. This is delicious, isn't it?
    2. *This is delicious, isn't this?

That is definitely a difference between personal pronouns and demonstrative pronouns. In English, determiners and corresponding pronouns often have the same form, but it's not always true in other languages. The difference between determiners and pronouns is that the former precede a noun while the latter don't. - TAKASUGI Shinji 12:39, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

My question has no meaning, of course, if you assume pronouns are determiners, as Paul Postal did first. - TAKASUGI Shinji 08:58, 11 May 2007 (UTC)

Possesive adjectives or possessive determiners[edit]

I have proposed that Possessive adjective be renamed to Possessive determiner, because my, your, etc. are actually determines, not adjectives. The article seems to receive little attention, and I have had only one response. I'll appreciate it if you write your opinions on Talk:Possessive adjective#Requested move. - TAKASUGI Shinji 06:34, 6 May 2007 (UTC)

Name of article[edit]

"Determiner (class)" doesn't seem a terribly helpful title. "Class" could refer to pretty much anything. Might it be better to rename the article "Determiner (grammar)" or "Determiner (linguistics)" or something like that? Matt 23:30, 22 July 2007 (UTC).

Determiners vs pronouns[edit]

From the article:

Determiners such as this, all, and some can often occur without a noun. In traditional grammar, these are called pronouns. There are, however, a number of key differences between such determiners and pronouns.

  1. Pronouns may occur in tag questions. Determiners can't.
    1. This is delicious, isn't it?
    2. *This is delicious, isn't this?

This implies that the word "this" in "this is delicious" is a determiner. Is that really true? Surely in this context "this" is a pronoun -- in any grammar, "traditional" or otherwise? "This" as a determiner would be in e.g. "this apple is delicious". Matt 03:05, 30 October 2007 (UTC)

Yes, this is a determiner even when the noun is unstated. It's called a fused-head construction. See, for example the discussion on p. 418 of the CGEL.--Brett (talk) 14:55, 2 April 2008 (UTC)


I'm not worried about the aforementioned, but about the part just after (from the article:)
  1. In phrasal verbs, pronouns must appear between the verb and particle. Determiners may occur after the particle.
    1. pick it up
    2. *pick up it
    3. pick this up
    4. pick up this
In no English that I have ever heard are 2 and 4 even remotely acceptable. Am I missing something? Headbeater (talk) 11:18, 26 September 2011 (UTC)

Determiners at English Wiktionary[edit]

Over at the English Wiktionary, it appears that we may be facing a vote regarding whether to allow determiner as a "part of speech heading" for English words. Anyone willing to make arguments for or against should make themselves heard here.--Brett (talk) 14:47, 2 April 2008 (UTC)

Where to start?[edit]

Does anybody else find this sentence ...questionable?

A determiner is a class of words that typically functions as a determiner (function)...

rowley (talk) 10:43, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Merged[edit]

Merged with Determiner (function) as per consensus on Talk:Determiner (function) Jubilee♫clipman 04:08, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Rename[edit]

Now that the two articles have been merged should this article be moved to Determiner (that DAB page being somewhat redundant)? Jubilee♫clipman 04:39, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Move?[edit]

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was no consensus to move the page. While the dab page could be overwritten and replaced with hatnotes, there has been no evidence presented here that Determiner (class) is the primary topic of the search term "determiner". Dekimasuよ! 11:24, 29 October 2009 (UTC)


Determiner (class)Determiner — — Determiner (class) and Determiner (function) were merged per consensus and DAB affix no longer needed. Dest page was DAB page and has history. — Jubilee♫clipman 04:52, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

  • Agree. The dab page can be safely overwritten. Determiner phrase is linked from this article already. We can add a hatnote to direct confused people to Determinative. CapnPrep (talk) 00:17, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

But I think it's clear that "(class)" no longer makes any sense, if it ever did. I'll move it to "(linguistics)". CapnPrep (talk) 13:33, 29 October 2009 (UTC)

Some background information[edit]

"Traditional English grammar" as opposed to, I assume, generative grammar? Could someone please drop a few words as to when, by whom and in what context the concept "determiner" (or "determinative") was introduced and / or accepted by the scientific community? Thanx Dan 19:30, 6 April 2010 (UTC)

Numbers as Determiners[edit]

The Article questions whether numbers are actually determiners, giving the example 'English numerals for 100 or larger need a determiner, such as "a hundred men."' However, "hundred" is not actually a number, whereas "one hundred" is. In this form numbers over 99 are still used as determiners, e.g. "one hundred men".

It would seem that in the context of phrases such as "a hundred men", "hundred" may represent a noun/prepositional clause equivalent to "hundred of" DavidRatonyi (talk) 00:31, 22 August 2010 (UTC) David

The statement in the article is definitely wrong, since e.g. "two hundred fifty men" doesn't need a determiner (and you can't analyze this as "hundred fifty men" with the determiner "two", since this would mean 2 * 150 = 300 men…) I would say that "one hundred" and "a hundred" are just free variants of the same numeral. As usual: find a source and add it. CapnPrep (talk) 01:32, 22 August 2010 (UTC)

Ordinal Determiners?[edit]

Perhaps ordinal numberings (first, second, ..., penultimate, ultimate, last) should be called out as well as cardinal (one, two, ...) determiners?

These words describe a property, so they are probably adjectives and not determiners. You can also use them with a copula. CodeCat (talk) 19:56, 12 November 2013 (UTC)