Given the following sentence:

Don't listen to those other people.

Are those and other adjectives or determinatives? Both? Which makes more sense?


I am prefixing the words in some phrases with abbreviations. Some of the words are giving me trouble in classification. (The message is supposed to be an implicit proof of why adding prefixes to table names in a database is terrible. But I'd like to get it right.)

Here's the full set of sentences for your amusement. However, please restrict your comments to the stated question, for the most part.

  1. com-Don't ver-Listen prep-To adj-Those adj-Other nou-People.
  2. pro-You aux-Should adv-Always ver-Use nou-Prefixes prep-With pro-Your adj-Table nou-Names.
  3. pro-I aux-Have adv-Even ver-Started ver-Using pro-Them prep-In adj-Normal nou-Writing.

  4. com-See adv-How adj-Effective pr-It ver-Is?

  5. nou-People aux-Can ver-Understand pro-Your nou-Writing adv-Better!

(where com means command verb)

This question is part of 3 related questions:

  1. This question
  2. Nouns vs. nouns used as adjectives
  3. Verbs vs. gerunds vs. something else

It originally came from this closed question

  • Determiners reference; adjectives describe. Does that help?
    – deadrat
    Nov 14, 2016 at 8:13
  • Possible duplicate or closely related: Determiner vs. Determinative.
    – user140086
    Nov 17, 2016 at 16:37
  • @Araucaria Why is the determinative that considered an adjective and not a determiner in You don't have to go that fast?
    – deadrat
    Nov 18, 2016 at 19:30
  • @deadrat Nice question. Well, although we don't want to put too much wieght on semantic issues when we are trying to determine syntactic things, this word seems to be a degree word. It also seems to be deictic. Like other deictic degree words that normally have modifying functions, it seems to be able to take a clause or phrase that can act as a kind of index to indicate the degree involved. So we can say for example "You don't have to go that fast [that you aren't able to stop for pedestrians]". When that has this degree meaning, it is normally modifying an adjective or determinative ... Nov 18, 2016 at 22:29
  • @deadrat ... and those are functions normally done by adverbs. And the previous qualities mentioned are typical of avderbs and adjectives. Very few other types of word seem to be able to modify adjectives apart from prepositions and adverbs. However, all of that is just thinking off the top of my head - and I'm currently at the pub and have had a beer, so ... I would need to actually do some homework to answer your question properly. Maybe the most important point is that determiatives very rarely modify adjectives, if they ever do at all. Nice question :) Nov 18, 2016 at 22:45

2 Answers 2


Since you're in charge of the tag set, you can call them anything you want. If you want to say (as some do) that determiners can be classed under 'adjective', then so be it. If not, then so be that.
It's just tagger output, after all, and it doesn't mean anything without a matching parser, which is likely to be just as eccentric in its terminology, depending on which constructions it's set to notice.

Grammatical terminology all depends on who is using it and what they want to use it for. There is no ISO standard for Parts Of Speech. Though the phrase "ISO POS" is enchantingly bizarre.

  • 3
    He doesn't mention that they all do it differently, using different standards and terminology and tag sets. By all means use their software, but it's just another file format. Nov 18, 2016 at 21:46
  • 2
    @JohnLawler Tha adjective analysis of words like those from traditional grammar is, well, erm, old traditional grammar. However, the word other is a different kettle of fish. It looks and feels like a word that is functioning as a modifier of the noun people. It doesn't seem as if it is in determiner function - and indeed it isn't. Many current grammars which recognise determinatives as a class of word still regard other as an adjecive there. Yet it is classified as a determinative by modern grammars such as CamGEL/ OMEG Nov 18, 2016 at 23:26
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    Like I said, they all do it different. "Look and feel", not to mention "functioning as a modifier", are matters of individual judgement for individual purposes. There isn't any universal definition of "modify" or "adjective", so arguing about it is at least pointless. Nov 19, 2016 at 0:01
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    The Eight Parts of Speech didn't used to contain Adjective. The Romans treated adjectives as a kind of noun, since they took the same endings as nouns and could be used as nouns. It wasn't until the Middle Ages that Participle slipped off the Big Eight and Adjectivum (from Nomen Adjectivum, the genderless noun) was snuck in. In many languages, they work like nouns, but in many other languages, they work like verbs. That's why there isn't a universal definition of adjective. Nov 19, 2016 at 16:05
  • 1
    Thanks, John. I don’t completely understand what the asker wants to do with these word classes of his, but I suspect his question was prompted by his surprise at being told that modern linguists often use word classes that Donatus never knew, and not just for the closed classes. I’ve thought of showing him tests to help him determine inclusion or exclusion in this or that lexical category, but I don’t think he realizes how inherently arbitrary and "needs-based" all such classification is—let alone how messy and full of exceptions natural languages are in this. Too big a topic.
    – tchrist
    Nov 19, 2016 at 19:24

I actually think that "those"and "other" are adjectives qualifying "people" unlike determinants such as "a", "an", and "the". Merriam-Webster. Thank you.

  • Please see this question and also here.
    – tchrist
    Nov 14, 2016 at 14:59
  • Why is this complicated, please anyone? I actually think that "those" usually and in this case "other" are simple articles… Are you demanding differences between "a" or "the" person and "those" people or what did I miss, please? Nov 20, 2016 at 23:17

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