English grammar: demonstratives and determiners
This grammar page gives you explanations of words like this and that, as well as determiners that go before nouns (such as each, every, all, much and many) and the pronouns one and ones.
Determiners: this, that, these, those
When we refer to things that are close to us, we use “this” (for singular and uncountable nouns) and “these” (for plural nouns).
When we refer to things that are far from us, we use “that” (for singular and uncountable nouns) and “those” (for plural nouns).
"I love this watch!"
"What about that one over there?"
"Do you like these shoes?"
"Actually, I prefer those ones in the window."
(See our page on English nouns for more information about singular, plural and uncountable nouns.)
Other grammatical words that come before the noun are each, every, either, enough, much, many, a lot of / lots of, several, a few, a little, all, both and some and any.
"I like each of these shirts."
"I'd like to visit every clothes shop in Milan."
"Which shirt do you prefer? Either is fine."
"We don't have enough time to go to all the clothes shops."
"I don't have much money on me today."
"He doesn't have many shirts for work."
"They have a few coats on sale."
"I'd like several pairs of sandals for summer."
"I want to buy all of these shirts!"
"I'd like to buy both the green shirt and the red shirt."
Each, every and either
"Each" identifies one of a group.
"Every" refers to all the components of the whole group.
"Either" means "this one or that one".
"Every shoe shop in this town is expensive." ( = all the shoe shops are expensive).
"Each pair of shoes is hand-made." (= each separate pair is hand-made)
"Which one of these jumpers do you want? Either goes well with my jeans."
Use each, every and either with a singular countable noun.
"Each dress is beautiful."
"Every dress is beautiful."
Several, all and both
We can use "all" with a plural or uncountable noun.
"All the jeans are beautiful."
We can also add ("of") + these / possessive adjective:
"All of these shirts are beautiful."
"All (of) his shirts are hand-made."
You can use "both" and "several" in the same way as "all".
"Both shirts are lovely."
"Both of those hats suit you."
"They have several pairs of white trousers in that shop."
"They have several of those trousers that you like."
Don't use "the" before several, all, or both.
Enough and a few
"Enough" means "sufficient". "Few" or "a few" means "not much".
We use enough with uncountable nouns, and few / a few with plural nouns.
(Note: we can use "little" or "a little" with uncountable nouns.)
"We've got enough time to go to the shopping centre."
Enough of + determiner + noun
"I've got enough of this type of T-shirt at home. I don't need any more."
"A few" means three or four, while "few" means one or two (= a smaller quantity that "a few").
A few + plural noun
"There are a few interesting boutiques on this road."
A few of + determiner + noun
"I want a few of these woollen scarves for winter."
Use "little" and "a little" with uncountable nouns.
"Little" is smaller quantity than "a little".
"We have a little time left. Lets go to M&S." (Maybe we have twenty minutes left.)
"We have little time left before our train." (Maybe we only have ten minutes left.)
Much, many and a lot
Use "much" with uncountable nouns, "many" with countable (plural) nouns, and "a lot of" / "lots of" with both type of nouns.
"I don't have much money."
"She doesn't have many friends."
"She has a lot of money / friends."
In affirmative sentences
Avoid using much. Instead, use a lot of or lots of.
much money to spend on clothes = "He has a lot of money to spend on clothes."
You can use many in affirmative sentences, but it sounds quite formal. Often we use a lot of or lots of instead.
He has many pairs of designer jeans = "He has lots of pairs of designer jeans."
In negative sentences
"I don't have much / a lot of time."
"He doesn't have many / a lot of shoes. "
"She doesn't have a lot of clothes."
Use a lot of / lots of in questions rather than much (which sounds formal).
"Do you have a lot of money on you?"
You can use either many or a lot of / lots of in questions.
"Does he have many friends?"
"Does he have a lot of friends?"
Note: There is no difference between "a lot of" and "lots of".
Using “one” and “ones”
We can use "one" and "ones" as a pronoun – to substitute a noun.
"How much is that bag?"
"The green one? It's £50."
"How much are those oranges?"
"The Spanish ones? They're £2 a kilo."
You can use the definite article "the" before "one" and "ones":
"I'd like the green one."
"I'd like the Spanish ones."
You can also use the indefinite article "a" or "an" if there is an adjective:
"I'd like a small one."
(But not "I'd like a small" or "I'd like a one".)
Replace "your one", "my one", "his one" and "her one" etc with the possessive pronoun "mine", "yours", "his", "hers" etc. For more information, see our English grammar page on pronouns and possessives.
Demonstratives and determiners exercise
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