Determiners are words that modify nouns or noun phrases and express the reference of the noun phrase in context. That is, a determiner may indicate whether the noun is referring to a definite or indefinite element of a class, to a closer or more distant element, to an element belonging to a specified person or thing, to a particular number or quantity, etc.
Determiners under this definition include both articles
and pro-adjectives (pronominal adjectives), which is a slightly broader
sense than what is usually regarded as determiners in English.
In particular, there is no general requirement that a nominal can be
modified by at most one determiner, although some languages may show
a strong tendency towards such a constraint.
(For example, an English nominal usually allows only one
but there are occasional cases of addeterminers, which appear outside
the usual determiner, such as [en] all in all the children survived.
In such cases, both all and the are given the POS
Note that the
DET tag includes (pronominal) quantifiers (words
like many, few, several), which are included among determiners in
some languages but may belong to numerals in others. However,
cardinal numerals in the narrow sense (one, five, hundred) are not
DET even though some authors would include them in
quantifiers. Cardinal numbers have their own tag NUM.
Also note that the notion of determiners is unknown in traditional grammar of
some languages (e.g. Czech); words equivalent to English determiners
may be traditionally classified as pronouns and/or
numerals in these languages. In order to annotate the same
thing the same way across languages, the words satisfying our definition
of determiners should be tagged
DET in these languages as well.
It is not always crystal clear where pronouns end and determiners start.
Unlike in UD v1 it is no longer required that they are told apart solely on
the base of the context. The words can be pre-classified in the dictionary
DET, based on their typical syntactic distribution
(and morphology, when applicable).
Language-specific documentation should list all determiners (it is a closed class)
and point out ambiguities, if any.
See also general principles on pronominal words for more tips on how to define determiners. In particular:
- Articles (the, a, an) are always tagged
DET; their PronType is
- Pronominal numerals (quantifiers) are tagged
PronType, they also use the NumType feature.
- Words that behave similar to adjectives are
DET. Similar behavior means:
- They are more likely to be used attributively (modifying a noun phrase) than substantively (replacing a noun phrase). They may occur alone, though. If they do, it is either because of ellipsis, or because the hypothetical modified noun is something unspecified and general, as in All [visitors] must pay.
- Their inflection (if applicable) is similar to that of adjectives, and distinct from nouns. They agree with the nouns they modify. Especially the ability to inflect for gender is typical for adjectives and determiners. (Gender of nouns is determined lexically and determiners may be required by the grammar to agree with their nouns in gender; therefore they need to inflect for gender.)
- Possessives vary across languages. In some languages the above tests put them in the
DETcategory. In others, they are more like a normal personal pronoun in a specific case (often the genitive), or a personal pronoun with an adposition; they are tagged
- articles (a closed class indicating definiteness, specificity or givenness): a, an, the
- possessive determiners: [cs] můj, tvůj, jeho, její, náš, váš, jejich
- demonstrative determiners: this as in I saw this car yesterday.
- interrogative determiners: which as in “Which car do you like?”
- relative determiners: which as in “I wonder which car you like.”
- quantity determiners (quantifiers): indefinite any, universal: all, and negative no as in “We have no cars available.”
DET in other languages: [am] [ar] [bg] [bxr] [ca] [ckb] [cop] [cs] [cu] [da] [de] [el] [en] [es] [et] [eu] [fa] [fi] [fo] [fr] [ga] [gl] [got] [grc] [he] [hi] [hr] [hu] [id] [it] [ja] [kk] [kmr] [ko] [la] [lv] [mr] [nl] [no] [pl] [pt] [ro] [ru] [sa] [sk] [sla] [sl] [so] [sr] [sv] [swl] [ta] [tr] [ug] [uk] [u] [urj] [ur] [vi] [yue] [zh]