Determiners: Teaching Implications

Confusion with Determiners

  • Pupils with English as an additional language can be confused by the way articles are used in English. Native speakers know intuitively when the article can be omitted, but EAL writers may insert articles where they are not required or omit them where they are needed.

    For example, a native speaker would be unlikely to say or write 'Let's have the lunch' or 'It's time to go to the bed'.

  • Help EAL pupils to learn idiomatic usages which omit the article. David Crystal suggests that the article is often omitted when talking about 'human institutions and routines, means of transport, periods of time, meals and illnesses'. This may guide pupils in making decisions about the use of articles.

  • Word order with determiners. When there is more than one determiner preceding the noun, it can be hard for EAL writers to know what is an appropriate order for the determiners. A general guide to help them would be that usually determiners occur in the following order: quantity; article/demonstrative/possessive; number. You can see from this that teaching these learners about central, pre-modifying and post-modifying determiners might have some value.

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