Are the words "a" and "the" adjectives? I consider the words indefinite and definite articles, respectively, and contend neither word describes a noun. Please clear this up for me. I am arguing a grade on a test paper for my daughter.


Connie Lacy
articles are a subset of adjectives... given the 8 parts of speech (nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, interjections, pronouns) articles fall under adjectives. need more "proof"? check the following site:


if you click "what is an adjective?" you will see, and i quote: "Grammarians also consider articles (``the,'' ``a,'' ``an'') to be adjectives."

(yes, you are both correct, therefore i would tell the teacher to swallow his/her pedantic pride, and be proud of his/her student, whose answer is in fact more detailed than the broader category of "adjective". at best, the teacher should split the difference with the student and give 1/2 credit... but now i am moralising!)
'A' , 'an' and 'the' are articles, but they are also 'determiners'. Determiners are the class of word that go at the start of a noun group. Other determiners are possessive pronouns, eg. 'my' and 'their', 'demonstatives' -'this, that, these, those', and 'general determiners' like 'some, both, most, all, enough' , and 'quantifiers' eg. 'a few', 'a lot of' etc. Some people also consider numerals - one, two, etc - to be determiners. With adjectives you can usually not just put them before a noun, but also say 'something or someone is....(adj.)', which you can't do with determiners. However, I know some people consider numerals to be adjectives, so I suppose they are putting all determiners into one big group called adjectives - as (presumably) 'words that go in front of nouns'. I've not heard of it before, but then there are as many different grammars as there are grammarians.