A determiner is the word that comes before a noun to introduce the noun. There are four types of determiner:
- quantifiers and
In this article, we will recap the meaning for the different types of determiners as well as looking at how and why they are important to OET letters. We will also cover some common errors that we see candidates making regarding determiners and give you some tips about how you can avoid making them. Read on if you are determined to finally master determiners!
First a Few Basics
It is necessary to use determiners for most singular nouns but for plural nouns it is optional and depends on the context. If a noun is preceded by an adjective, the determiner comes before the adjective.
Demonstratives are officially pronouns but function as determiners.
They are used to refer to a specific noun, in a similar way to the definite article (the) but point out the noun in question so it is clear one is talking specifically about the given noun in particular.
In general, you will not need to use many demonstratives in your OET letters, as articles are usually better suited, but it is good to be aware of their function. Here are 2 examples of how they could be included in an OET letter.
- As that medication had given her side-effects, it was discontinued.
- The patient was made aware that these behaviours were detrimental to his health.
Quantifiers specify the quantity of a noun in a general sense without using numbers or exact amounts. Here are some examples of how you would use quantifiers in an OET letter:
- Few crepitations were heard on auscultation.
- All the relevant blood tests have been carried out.
- The patient has presented many times with similar symptoms.
Possessives are pronouns, but also classed as determiners. They show who owns the noun, or who it belongs to.
They include: my, your, his, her, our, their,its
- Your assessment and management would be highly appreciated.
- Her medications include
- Therefore, his analgesic dose was increased.
The main error we see regarding possessives in OET letters is the omission of the possessive pronouns his or her, much in the same way that candidates may miss an article.
- The patient is having marital issues and wife believes he is overreacting.
- The patient is having marital issues and his wife believes he is overreacting.
The other issue that sometimes comes up is use of the wrong gender pronoun as a determiner. The confusion may arise from the misconception that the possessive pronoun takes the gender of the noun following it rather than the noun to whom the possession is linked.
- Mrs Barrymore was accompanied by his brother.
- Mrs Barrymore was accompanied by her brother.
Along with errors related to verbs, article use is the most common area where OET candidates make grammatical errors. Articles are by far the most used determiners in the English language and as they are not used in all languages, they can be extremely difficult to master for many language learners.
To recap the basics, a noun takes an indefinite article if it is general (a married woman, an episode) or a definite article if referring to a specific or a previously referred to noun (the patient, the medication). Some nouns (uncountable nouns) do not take an article.
For a more in depth look at articles we have some fantastic articles about articles on our website! For now, though, let’s look at some examples of common article errors in OET writing.
Common Article Error 1: Missing articles
- Mr Wong presented at the clinic with complaint of angina on exertion.
- Mr Wong presented at the clinic with a complaint of angina on exertion.
- She was on oral contraceptive pill.
- She was on the oral contraceptive pill.
Common Article Error 2: Article where no article needed
- His examination was remarkable except for the pain on the flexion.
- His examination was remarkable except for pain on flexion.
- The patient was displaying symptoms of the lung cancer.
- The patient was displaying symptoms of lung cancer.
Common Article Error 3: Wrong article
- She has the blood pressure of…
- She has a blood pressure of…
- He has the family history of depression.
- He has a family history of depression.
Our advice would be to spend a considerable amount of time on revising article use as well as making sure that you understand the function of the other determiners, as mastering this element of grammar in OET writing could well be the difference between nearly getting the score you want and finally achieving it. It could be argued it is the number 1 error in the OET writing subtest so fix this and your OET problems could be over!