Difference Between Adjective and Determiner

Main Difference – Adjective vs Determiner

Adjectives and determiner are both words that modify or describe a noun or a noun phrase. However, there is a distinctive difference between adjective and determiner. Most adjectives can be used in front of the noun as well as after the noun (predicatively). Determiners can only be used in front of the noun. In addition, a noun can have only one determiner, but there is no limit to the number of adjectives used by a noun.  This is the main difference between adjective and determiner. It is also important to note that some grammarians consider determiners to be a part of adjectives.

This article explains,

1. What are Adjectives? – Grammar, Characteristics, Types and Examples 

2. What are Determiners? – Grammar, Characteristics, Types and Examples 

3. Difference Between Adjective and Determiner 

Difference Between Adjective and Determiner - Adjective vs Determiner Comparison Summary

What is an Adjective

An adjective is a word that modifies or describes a noun. Adjectives are one of the eight parts of speech. Given below are some examples of adjectives.

Pretty girl, blue car, fat woman, small boy, huge elephant

The adjectives that precede the noun or pronoun are called attributive adjectives.

Adjectives can also occur after a linking verb. These adjectives are called predicative adjectives. For example,

The girl is pretty.

The elephant is huge.

Adjectives can also express a degree or to compare and contrast nouns. Superlative adjectives and comparative adjectives are two such categories of adjectives. Comparative adjectives are used to compare two things whereas superlative adjectives are used compare three or more things.

Superlative forms:

highest, shortest, most beautiful, nastiest, etc.

Comparative forms:

Prettier, taller, shorter, more beautiful, etc.

Difference Between Adjective and Determiner

Some Examples of Adjectives

What is a Determiner

A determiner is a type of a word that sits before a noun or a noun phrase. Some grammarians consider determiners to be a type of adjective whereas some consider it to be the ninth part of speech. A determiner can modify a noun to indicate quantity, possession, definiteness or specificity. Determiners can be categorized into several types depending on their functions. Given below are these categories.


Articles are one of the commonest types of determiners. Articles indicate the specificity or definiteness. Articles can be classified into two categories called definite articles (the) and indefinite articles (a, an).


Possessive determiners indicate the possession or ownership. Myyourhisheritsourtheir, and whose are the possessive determiners in the English language.


Quantifiers indicate the quantity. Cardinal numbers (one, two, three, etc.) and indefinite adjectives (e.g., many, much, most, several, some) belong to this category.


Demonstrative determiners indicate the specificity and position of the noun. This, that, these and those belong to this category.

Main Difference - Adjective vs Determiner

Some Examples of Determiners

Difference Between Adjective and Determiner


Adjective: An adjective can occur attributively or predicatively.

Determiner: A determiner cannot occur after the noun.

Superlatives and Comparatives

Adjective: Adjectives can have a superlative form and comparative form.

Determiners: Determiners cannot have a superlative or comparative form.


Adjective: Adjectives can be removed from the sentence; the sentence would still make sense grammatically.

Determiners: Determiners cannot be removed from a sentence.


Adjective: A noun can have more than one adjective.

Determiner: A noun cannot have more than one determiner.


Adjective: There are many adjectives in the language.

Determiner: The number of determiners in the language is limited.

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About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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