The 10 types of Determinants (characteristics and examples)
Human evolution has been possible thanks to the combination of an infinity of different genetic, biological, climatic, cultural, social and ecological factors. It is impossible to rescue only one event that allows us to explain why we are here and how we have come to become a species capable of such amazing things. But there will be no debate in which one of the most important has been, without a doubt, the development of language.
The ability to speak is what has differentiated us from animals. But the development of complex languages capable of transmitting any type of information is what has made us human. And although it is impossible to determine exactly, it is estimated that there are around 7,000 different languages in the world. Some majority and others minority. But all of them important.
And the fourth most widely spoken, surpassed only by English, Mandarin Chinese and Hindi, is ours: Spanish. With 592 million speakers, Spanish is one of the most important languages in the world on a social and historical level. And in this language, one of the most important lexical units are the determiners, the words that accompany the noun in a sentence and that, coinciding with it in number and gender, serve to refer to the object or person in question.
So, in today's article and for you to find an answer to all the doubts and questions you may have about this topic, we are going to analyze the characteristics of all the different types of determinants in the Spanish language, seeing examples of each of them. Let us begin.
What kinds of determinants are there?
Determinants are the lexical units that provide information about the noun in a sentence. Occupying a position prior to the name, they are words that accompany this noun and that serve to refer to it, giving information about its number, gender, possession, situation and relationship with the space and context of the sentence.
It is important to make it clear that they are units that accompany the name. They do not replace it. The words that do replace the noun are the pronouns, which are those units that are put in their place when it does not appear. We say this because it is important not to confuse between determiner and pronoun.
Explained like this, it may sound complex. But the reality is that we are constantly using them and now, seeing examples of each of the types of determinants that exist, classified according to their lexical role, everything will be much clearer. So let's start looking at the characteristics and examples of the main classes of determinants.
Predeterminers are a special type of determinant that precedes another determinant. Specifically, it is a determinant that is placed before the article (a type of updating determinant that we will see now) in the structure of the noun phrase. It acts as a specifying unit, although in Spanish, there is only one default: "everything". In addition to its derivatives, of course. For example: "the whole team came."
2. Updating determinants
We now enter the determinants as such and begin with the updaters, those determinants whose lexical function is to locate the nucleus of the noun phrase (the word they accompany and which is the center of the sentence as it is the noun) in space and in time with more precision. We can find three types of updater determinants: articles, demonstrative and possessive.
Articles are updating determiners that accompany the noun of the sentence to provide information about whether this core of the sentence is known or unknown. In this sense, we have the determined articles (the, the, the, the) when the noun is known by the speaker and the listener and the indeterminate articles (a, some, one, some), when it is not known; in addition to the neuter article (lo), which accompanies adjectives, participles or adverbs, but never names. These articles allow us to know the relationship with the nucleus of the noun phrase, in addition to establishing its gender.
Demonstratives are actualizing determinants that provide information about the closeness or distance of the noun who they accompany. Therefore, they serve to locate the nucleus of the noun phrase in space and can indicate that it is close (this, these, this, these), at a medium distance (that, those, that, those) or far (that, those , that, those).
Possessives are actualizing determinants that provide information about who owns what is designated by the noun. That is, they allow us communicate who is the owner of the named by the name it accompanies. They can be of a single owner (my, mine, my, mine, mine, mine, you, yours, yours, yours, yours, his, his, his, his, his, his) or of several holders (our, ours, ours, ours, yours, yours, yours, yours, his, his, his, his, his, his).
3. Quantifying determinants
We leave the realm of updater determinants and focus on quantifiers, those that measure the amount of the nucleus of the noun phrase. That is, they provide information about the number of the noun they accompany. Depending on the precision with which they provide such information, these quantifying determinants can be of three types: undefined, numeral, and extensive.
The indefinites are quantifying determinants that point to an imprecise amount of what is named. That is, they provide inaccurate information about the number of the noun they accompany since we know little about it. Determiners such as "some, some, several, quite a few, true, too much, a little, many, few, any, few, others, so many ..." are included here.
Numerals are quantifying determinants that point out a precise amount of what is named. That is, they provide concise information about the number (or order of magnitude or directly order in a sequence) of the noun they accompany since we know a lot about it. This includes the cardinals (one, two, three, four, five, six, seven ...), the ordinals (first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh ...), the multiplicatives (double, triple, quadruple ... ) and fractional (half, third, fourth ...).
Extensive are quantifiers that, although they are really adverbs, behave and can be used, in some contexts, as determiners that, being in this group, provide information about the number of the noun. In this particular case, these extensive adverbs-determiners express the relationship with another noun. That is to say, express a comparison of quantity between two nouns. The extensive ones are "more" (to express superiority in quantity), "less" (to express inferiority) and "so" (to show equity between both nouns).
4. Interrogative-exclamatory determinants
We leave the field of quantifying determinants and come to the last group of determinants (at least in the Spanish language, since there is a fifth group that we will comment on at the end), known as interrogative-exclamatory. They are those determinants that express the emotions of the person who speaks to the noun they accompany. Depending on what meaning they give to the sentence, they can be, as their name suggests, of two types: interrogative or exclamatory.
Interrogatives are determiners that are used to ask about the core of the noun phrase. Thus, interrogative determiners accompany the noun to ask questions about its nature or quantity. In this sense, the most used questions are “what, how much, how many, which and which ones”. For example, "What movie are we going to see this weekend?" or "How many students are there in this class?" Let us remember that, in addition to asking about it, since they are decisive, they have to be located before the name.
Exclamatives are determiners that are used to express admiration about the core of the noun phrase. Accompanying the noun as determinants, they express surprise and / or emotion for it. They are actually the same determinants as the questions (what and how much), but the context is very different.
And it is that in this case, in addition to not using questions, but exclamations (although it is not necessary), they do not ask about the name, but rather they denote admiration or surprise. For example, when saying "What a movie", hinting that we liked it a lot, or "how many children are in this class", hinting that we are surprised by the high number of students in that classroom.
5. Classifying determinants
And we end up with a special group of determinants. And we say "special" because it is difficult to talk about them and their functions for a very simple reason: in the Spanish language they do not exist. We are talking about what are known as classifying determinants. These are present in languages whose structure requires the presence of these nominal classifiers.
By nominal classifier we understand that determinant that is obligatorily located behind a name, necessarily accompanying it and specifying the semantic class (the type of meaning of the name) to which said noun belongs. Typically, these classifying determinants, present in Chinese and many Native American languages, provide information of semantic content, that is, they are units with meaning value. Hence, they are different from all those we have seen and that their presence accompanying a name is necessary and mandatory for it to have full meaning.