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The little girl's pink dress.

Is the determiner "the", or is it "the little girl's"?

  • That is not a sentence, it is merely a phrase. There is no verb. And what do you mean by determiner? – WS2 Aug 29 '15 at 8:18
  • Sorry, yes I understand this is a noun phrase. – Sid Aug 29 '15 at 8:19
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A "determiner" is a word that modifies a noun to tell us which class the noun belongs to. This is opposed to the other type of noun modifier, the adjective, which describes a characteristic of the noun.

Determiners include, among other words, articles "a," "an," and "the" as well as possessives.

So the determiners are "The" (telling us which little girl) and "girl's" telling us which dress. These two don't describe their nouns like the adjectives "little" (modifying "girl") and "pink" (modifying "dress").

One handy way to tell the difference between determiners and adjectives is that you can inflect adjectives for comparison -- the littler girl, the pinkest dress -- but there's no way to do that with determiners.

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