Order of Determiners
There are rules about the order of determiners in a noun phrase.
1. It's possible to have NO determiner: John likes dogs. People breathe air. Wine is alcohol. This is the so-called "zero determiner", and is mainly possible with proper nouns (i.e. names), plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
2. All determiners, when present, come at the BEGINNING of a noun phrase (before any adjectives): the big black dog / my favourite car
3. If you have a "main determiner", you can have only ONE. The main determiners are:
- articles: a/an, the
- demonstratives: this/that, these/those
- possessives: my/your/his etc
So if you have an article, you cannot also have a demonstrative. If you have a possessive, you cannot also have an article. You can have one article OR one demonstrative OR one possessive. For example, you can say "this dog" or "my dog", but you cannot say "
this my dog". The table below shows how the main determiners "mutually exclude" each other:
4. Some determiners function as "pre-determiners" — they can come BEFORE a main determiner. You can have ONE pre-determiner: all the right people / half my weight
5. Other determiners function as "post-determiners" — they can come AFTER a main determiner. You can have ONE OR MORE post-determiners: the next time / my first two jobs
6. If you do have more than one determiner, the table below is a guide to the normal order. Remember, this is a guide only. Not every combination is possible.
|you can have up to|
|one of these +||one of these +||one or more of these|
|ordinals||cardinals, other quant-
double, twice, ten times
|a||little more||red wine|