Determiners and Adjectives

Is there a definitive, or close to a definitive, decision about whether or not determiners are a subcategory of adjectives?

I was taught that articles are adjectives and that some pronouns FUNCTION as adjectives. But now I read that articles and some pronouns, as well as some quantifies, are all determiners, but NOT adjectives!
Original Post
quote:
Is there a definitive, or close to a definitive, decision about whether or not determiners are a subcategory of adjectives?
Hello, Reenie, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange!

I'm sorry it's taken me a while to respond to your question here. I saw it shortly after you posted it and hoped that someone else would reply, as I have had an extremely busy week and didn't have time for a debate.
quote:
I was taught that articles are adjectives and that some pronouns FUNCTION as adjectives. But now I read that articles and some pronouns, as well as some quantifies, are all determiners, but NOT adjectives!
If you want to talk about certain pronouns, you need to specify which ones you have in mind. We can't read your mind when you say "some pronouns." I shall assume, however, that by "articles" you mean "the," "a," and "an."

Historically, there have been grammarians who have referred to articles ("the," "a," and "an,") as "limiting adjectives." I am not aware of any grammarians who have taken that position since the dawn of modern linguistics.

Here's why I would never call an article, or any other type of determiner, an adjective:
    1. An determiner is not optional before a count noun.

    (a) He bounced a ball.
    (b) He bounced the ball.
    (c) *He bounced ball.

    2. Adjectives, like all modifiers, are always optional.

    (d) He bounced a red ball.
    (e) He bounced a ball.
    (f) He bounced the red ball.
    (g) He bounced the ball.

    3. Articles and other determiners can't be predicated of nouns; adjectives can.

    (h) The ball is red.
    (i) *The ball is the.
    (j) *The ball is a.
    (k) *The ball is my.

    4. Articles can be followed by adjectives; they cannot be followed by other determiners.

    (l) The ball is red.
    (m) His ball is red.
    (n) *The his ball is red.
    (o) *His the ball is red.

    5) Adjectives can be intensified by intensifiers; determiners and other determiners can't.

    (p) The very red ball is mine.
    (q) *Very the red ball is mine.
    (r) My very red ball is big.
    (s) *Very my red ball is big.
Would you still like to believe that articles (or possessive determiners, like "my," "his," "their," etc.) are adjectives?
I was just curious. I learned my grammar in Catholic schools in the 60s and 70s, which I guess is before the dawn of modern linguistics!

Your points make a lot of sense. My thought was that determiners describe and modify nouns just as adjectives do. This is probably why, in ancient linguistics, articles and other determiners were adjectives.

By "some pronouns function as adjectives" I meant the following (please forgive if I use the wrong title; it has been 45 years since Catholic school):
Possesive pronouns (eg, my etc), object pronouns (mine etc), demonstrative pronouns (this etc).

I was taught that those are pronouns that function as adjectives. Based on what you have said, it seems that demonstratives can function as adjective or determiner (this book/ i want this). Possessive pronouns only functionas adjectives (my book). Object pronouns only function as determiners (It is mine.)(or would that be called a predicate adjective?)

Im just returning to grammar after 40 years away so forgive my ignorance. Based on what you hace said and what i have read, the case for deteeminers being classified as a part of speech, not a subclass of adjectives makes sense.

Could I logically say, then, that adverbs, adjectives, and determiners are all modifiers?

Thank you so much for your time. If you are inclined to respond back to my new queries, I would appreciate it!
quote:
Possesive pronouns (eg, my etc), object pronouns (mine etc), demonstrative pronouns (this etc).

I was taught that those are pronouns that function as adjectives.


Hi, Reenie, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange!

(Sorry, David, if I didn't tackle the question before, but I don't know much about how things changed in grammar through the years, and rightly assumed you were the one who could give the best possible answer. Now that you've done the difficult part, I guess I can make my small contribution. Smile )

English is only my second language, Reenie, but I never heard of those determiners (possessive or demonstrative) being called pronouns. Notice, however, that demonstrative determiners can function as demonstrative pronouns in the absence of a noun, as is also the case with the possessive determiner his (His book is old / This book is his). Other possessives change depending on whether they are determiners or pronouns: my/mine, her/hers, our/ours, their/theirs. Pronouns substitute for nouns, while determiners modify nouns:

- This (pronoun) is my (determiner) book.
- This (determiner) book is mine (pronoun).

I reserve the term "object pronouns" for those pronouns that typically appear after verbs and prepositions (me, him, her, us, them).

quote:
Could I logically say, then, that adverbs, adjectives, and determiners are all modifiers?


Yes, Reenie. While adjectives and determiners modify nouns, adverbs modify verbs, adjectives or other adverbs.

Please let us know if we can be of any further help.
Thanks for your contributions here, Gustavo.
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I learned my grammar in Catholic schools in the 60s and 70s, which I guess is before the dawn of modern linguistics!
That's great, Reenie. Modern linguistics, of which Noam Chomsky is said to be the father, was already well under way while you were in grammar school. However, its findings and approaches doubtless were not part of your grammatical catechism.

Did you by chance study the Reed-Kellogg sentence diagramming method in Catholic grammar school? I suspect that that is the source of your difficulty. That approach to diagramming was developed in the mid-1800s, long before the dawn of modern linguistics.

In Reed-Kellogg sentence diagrams, which were for teaching youngsters grammar, determiners branch off of the lines on which nouns are drawn in the same way that adjectives do. If that is how you're thinking about things, your misconceptions are totally understandable.
quote:
Based on what you have said, it seems that demonstratives can function as adjective or determiner (this book/ i want this). Possessive pronouns only functionas adjectives (my book).
No, determiners do not function as adjectives. In the phrase "this book," "this" is not an adjective; it is a determiner. In the phrase "my book," "my" is not an adjective; it is a determiner. Again, though, your Reed-Kellogg diagrams won't show you the difference.
Thank you so much for your response. I was without electricity for a few days so i could not respond sooner. I am impressed with your knowledge given that english is not your first language!

I will have to modernize my thoughts and add determiners as a part of speech.
As for the pronoun issue, I was taught as follows.
Possessive pronouns: my, your, his, her, its, our, your, their
also anybody's, anyone's, someone's, nobodyx s, no one's, one another's, each other's.
Demonstrative pronouns: this,that, these, those

(Also subject, object, possessive object, relative, reciprocal, reflexive, interrogative, indefinite...but that's another discussion!)

So i was taught that when you use a possesive or demonstrative to describe a noun, that pronoun functions as an adjective. I will now correct my understanding to say that these pronouns function as determiners. The technical reasons why make sense, but it is hard to get used to!

I will ask about articles soon!
Reenie,

I am a bit older than David, so many of the things that you were taught in grade school were taught to me as well. I was also taught that articles were adjectives.

The public schools where I grew up were a few decades behind the times. When I was in high school, they were teaching that there were only two Kingdoms of Life, Plantae and Animalia, and that fungi and bacteria were Plantae, even though the scientific community had long since discarded that notion. The schools were equally lagging when it came to modern linguistic thinking.

David and I have had many discussions about such things, and we have come to agree that the traditional "parts of speech", as defined in most dictionaries, are inadequate. I hope to work with David on redefining some of these antiquated concepts.

Please don't be embarrassed about any misconceptions you may have. The language is still evolving, and David, Gustavo, and I are still learning it. And it will change tomorrow.

The whole broad category of "adjective" doesn't address why we can say "she wore a pretty blue skirt", but we can't say "she wore a blue pretty skirt", does it? Obviously, "a", "pretty", and "blue" don't follow the same rules.

May I ask where you are from? I would have guessed that you were a native speaker of English.

Thanks,

DocV

DocV, I am American and Emglish is my first language. Most of my grammar I learned in Catholic elementary school. In high school, instruction was more about literature, vocabulary building, different types of writing, and spelling. Grammar was an elective in 11th grade and I took it. Our book was Strunk and White's Elements of Style which focuses more on usage and composition.

It is a serious thing for me to add a part of speech and I'm not yet comfortable with the idea of determiners, but I will get there eventually- it does seem as if there is concensus in the grammar community! 

What would be the category for good/better/best? Determiner or adjective?

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