Predeterminer (grammar)

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

The three core predeterminers in English.

n grammar, a type of determiner that precedes other determiners in a noun phrase. (The word that immediately follows a predeterminer is called the central determiner.) Also known as a predeterminer modifier

Predeterminers are used to express a proportion (such as all, both, or half) of the whole indicated in the noun phrase.

Like determiners, predeterminers are functional elements of structure and not formal word classes.

Also see:

Examples and Observations

  • "Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save."
    (attributed to Will Rogers)
  • "All the people like us are We,
    And everyone else is They."
    (Rudyard Kipling)
  • "Both the children had a gentleness (it was their only fault, and it never made Miles a muff) that kept them--how shall I express it?--almost impersonal and certainly quite unpunishable."
    (Henry James, The Turn of the Screw, 1898)
  • "Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
    Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
    All the king's horses and all the king's men
    Couldn't put Humpty together again."
    (English nursery rhyme)
  • "Realizing the importance of the case, my men are rounding up twice the usual number of suspects."
    (Claude Rains as Captain Renault in Casablanca, 1942)
  • Core Members and Marginal Members
    "The special quantifiers all, both, and half are the core members of the class of predeterminers. Other fractions and multiples (twice, thrice, three times, etc.) are marginal members. This set of quantifying elements is distinct from ordinary quantifiers such as many, some, much, and the cardinal and ordinal numerals. . . .

    "[T]he word such and certain adjectives can [also] serve as predeterminer modifiers before the indefinite article. In all such cases in the corpora, predeterminer adjectives are themselves modified such that they describe a relative degree of some property. For example, something that is too good possesses a degree of goodness that is equal to some reference point; someone who is such a bore exhibits a high degree of boorishness, etc."
    (Thomas Edward Payne, Understanding English Grammar: A Linguistic Introduction. Cambridge University Press, 2011)