I have always believed that articles (a/an, the) are a special type of adjective.. In watching a TV show recently (Smarter than 5th Grader) - A question was - "How many adjectives are in the following sentence: "Sierra ran down the hill."? - They claimed the answer is 'zero'! I would have said 'one'. Who is correct?

  • 2
    I have a hunch this question won't remain open. That said, in the sentence you provide, "the" is an article, not an adjective. Moreover, articles stand as parts of speech on their own; they are not "special adjectives." Am I allowed to cite Jeff Foxworthy as a reference on EL&U? (Foxworthy is the comedian who hosts the television show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?).
    – J.R.
    Mar 5 '12 at 1:33

I suspect that this question should be closed as general reference, as a search for "english parts of speech" turns up a decent variety of reasonably authoritative references.

For example, according to wikipedia, the major parts of speech are:

  • Open word classes:
    - adjectives
    - adverbs
    - nouns
    - verbs (except auxiliary verbs)
    - Interjections
  • Closed word classes:
    - auxiliary verbs
    - clitics
    - coverbs
    - conjunctions
    - determiners (articles, quantifiers, demonstrative adjectives, and possessive adjectives)
    - particles
    - measure words
    - adpositions (prepositions, postpositions, and circumpositions)
    - preverbs
    - pronouns
    - contractions
    - cardinal numbers

You may note that articles are a type of determiner, not a type of adjective. (Although other subclasses of adjective also fall into the determiner category.) Other sources which do not delve so deeply into linguistics (such as about.com, the University of Victoria, etc.) put the articles into their own category, specifying the parts as:

Noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, conjunction, preposition, interjection, article.

  • I was taught that "the" is an article. Although yesterday in our son's 3rd grade workbook they listed it as an adjective, which bugged me. So I emailed the publisher of the book. They just now replied and this was their answer: "...Since articles are used to describe the specificity/non-specificity of nouns, they are considered a type of adjective. That’s why “the” is listed as an adjective in the answer key." I'm still having a hard time buying into this.
    – FrankDraws
    Sep 16 at 20:50

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