Identifying and using correct articles and pronouns


Determiners are said to mark a noun and while they are, like adjectives, modifiers of the noun, they have a variety of formats. Articles, demonstratives, possessives, numbers and quantifiers clarify nouns and noun groups. The effective use of determiners helps to support more mature writing.

Articles (a, an, the), demonstrative determiners (this, that, these, those) and possessive determiners (my, your, his, her, its, our) are used to describe nouns. They help to answer the question ‘which one/s in particular’. Demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those) and possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours) are used in the place of nouns.


The articles “a” and “an” are called indefinite articles and the article “the” is called a definite article. “A” is used before consonant sounds, and “an” is used before vowel sounds or a silent h because we hear the vowel as the first sound in the word, for example in an hour. These two articles refer to any one of a type of person, place, or thing. “The” refers to a specific person, place or thing. Articles are used to connect ideas in texts and are a cohesive device. The article “the” is used in front of both singular and plural nouns.


Demonstratives (this, that, these, those) tell us which specific thing is being referred to, either as close by: this and these OR further away: that and those. Demonstratives are sometimes referred to as ‘pointers’ in the noun group. They point out a noun and may look like a demonstrative adjective, but it is used differently in a sentence: it acts as a pronoun, taking the place of a noun.


Possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, mum’s, Mr Smith’s) tell us who owns something. ‘His’ and ‘hers’ and possessive determiners (his and her) can be problematic for EALD students who do not express gender in this way in their home language.


Like articles, quantifiers are words that precede and modify nouns. They tell us how many or how much. Selecting the correct quantifier depends on your understanding the distinction between Count and Non-Count Nouns. An example of a count noun is trees and a non-count noun dancing:

  • the following quantifiers work with count nouns: many, a few, few, several, a couple of, none of the.
  • the following quantifiers work with non-count nouns: not much, a little, little, a bit of, a good deal of, a great deal of, no.
  • the following quantifiers work with both count and non–count nouns: all of the, some, most of the, enough, a lot of, lots of, plenty of, a lack of.


A pronoun stands in place of a noun, noun group or name. The purpose of pronouns is to set up links by referring to sentences or the context that has just been mentioned to maintain continuity, avoid repetition and make sentences easier to understand. Please refer to referencing in the Cohesion tab.

Activity 1: pronouns

Use the resources from Pronouns.

After considerable modelling and practice as a class, students use the cards to practise using pronouns. Laminate the cards, add to a key ring –as pictured – students in pairs or small groups flip cards over and make a sentence with the top card. Students keep a record of number of sentences their partner has made with tallies. They try to beat their previous tallies each time they play.

Activity 2: pronouns and determiners

Revise pronouns and determiners using resources from Personal pronouns, Possessive determiners, Possessive pronouns play the game at the website below:

Activity 3: smart notebook articles and pronouns

Using resources from Notebook find and write as lesson breaks.

  • Articles, demonstratives, and possessives.
  • Noun to pronoun replacement.
  • Correct pronoun write.
  • Nouns.
  • Noun types.
  • Beginning noun groups – nouns and adjectives.
  • Innovating on a text example.

Activity 4: substitution

Highlight some definite articles (the) and the indefinite articles (a and an) in a text. Substitute demonstratives, determiners and or possessives for the highlighted ones and ask students to continue through the passage substituting changes. (See notebook).

Activity 5: relative pronouns

Relative pronouns (who, whom, whose, which, that) refer to a preceding noun. Example:

'In his dad’s shed Ali has found an old map that shows the location of Atlantis near a remote island'. (from the text). Replace the relative clause with an interrogative – which becomes:

'What shows the location of Atlantis near a remote island?' This helps students to identify the noun to which the pronoun refers. Have students create an interrogative from other relative clauses.

Activity 6: substitution

Highlight some determiners in a text. Have students use interrogative determiners to change the sentences from the text to questions using: what or which (see Notebook).


Australian curriculum

ACELA1491: Understand how texts are made cohesive through the use of linking devices including pronoun reference and text connectives

NSW syllabus

EN2-4A: Uses an increasing range of skills, strategies and knowledge to fluently read,view and comprehend a range of texts on increasingly challenging topics.

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