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Using Numerals as Determinatives

Numerals belong to a closed class of words call determiners. Determiners provide information such as familiarity, location, quantity, and number about a noun, pronoun (rarely), or noun phrase. Numerals are counting numbers such as one, two, three, and four that provide information about the amount of a word or phrase. Numeral phrases also contain the p-word of functioning as a particle as in two of and four of. Some grammars consider numerals as a subcategory of quantifiers.

In grammar, a determinative is a word or phrase that expresses additional information such as definiteness, proximity, quantity, and relationships about a noun phrase and that differs from an adjective phrase, which describes attributes. In the English language, numerals function as determinatives. Examples of numerals as determinatives include the following:

  • Two birds crashed into one window ten minutes ago.
  • Bring me eight apples, nine olives, and two pizza crusts.
  • I just bought twelve new pairs of shoes.
  • We have six cans of the spinach and two of the carrots.
  • Nine of my students called in sick three days this week.
  • Mom sent me six of her world-famous pies.

References

Brinton, Laurel J. & Donna M. Brinton. 2010. The linguistic structure of Modern English, 2nd edn. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Hopper, Paul J. 1999. A short course in grammar. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Huddleston, Rodney. 1984. Introduction to the grammar of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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