GRAMMAR
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Determiners

A determiner is a word that modifies a noun to express the noun’s reference, including its identity and quantity. Apart from the plural marker -s (which is considered a determiner in Elefen), the determiners always precede the noun.

There are several different classes of determiner. Typical examples of each class are: tota, la, esta, cual, cada, mea, multe, otra.

Predeterminers

Tota means “all”. It indicates the entire quantity of the noun’s referent. Unlike cada, tota refers to the whole thing, rather than the separate individuals that comprise it:

Ambos means “both”. It can be used in place of tota when the entire quantity is known to be only two. The noun must be plural:

Semantically, tota and ambos are no different from quantifiers, but they are treated as a separate class because of their syntax: they precede all other determiners in a noun phrase, including la.

They can also be used as pronouns.

Articles

Elefen has two articles – the definite article la, and the indefinite article un. “Definite” here means that the noun’s referent is “already defined”, as opposed to being something new.

La introduces a noun that denotes someone or something that the listener is already aware of. It is used in the following types of situation:

Un introduces a singular noun that refers to something the listener is not yet aware of. It is not used with plural or uncountable nouns. (It also serves as a quantifier meaning “one”.)

Some languages have a partitive article that indicates an indefinite quantity of an uncountable noun. Elefen uses la, or no article at all:

Demonstratives

The demonstratives point to the noun’s referent, locating it in time or space or the discourse itself.

Esta means “this”. It is similar to la, but points to an item that is near the speaker, either physically or metaphorically:

Acel means “that”. It is also similar to la, but points to an item that is distant from the speaker, or at least more distant than esta:

Esta and acel can be converted to pronouns.

Interrogatives

The interrogative determiners are one way to create questions.

Cual asks “which” or “what”:

Cuanto asks “how many” with a plural countable noun, and “how much” with an uncountable noun:

Cual and cuanto are also used as pronouns.

Selection determiners

The selection determiners pick out specific individuals from the whole set:

Cada means “each” or “every”, considering all the items separately as individuals. The noun must be countable but singular:

Cualce means “any”, i.e. it doesn’t matter which. The noun is normally countable. “Any” with an uncountable noun is usually “alga”:

Alga indicates that the identity of the noun’s referent is unspecified:

When used with a noun that is uncountable, or a noun that is countable and plural, alga indicates that not only is the referent’s identity unspecified, but its quantity is too. The quantity is often understood to be fairly small – otherwise you would say multe – but not as emphatically small as with poca:

No means “no”. It indicates that the noun’s referent is absent or non-existent:

Sola means “only”, i.e. just this and no others:

These determiners, with the exception of no and sola, can also be used as pronouns. They also form the special pronouns cadun, cualcun, algun and nun, which refer to people. To refer to things, the determiners are simply followed by cosa.

Possessives

The possessive determiners are mea, tua, nosa, and vosa:

Possession can also be indicated with a phrase like de me:

The third-person possessive is sua, regardless of whether the equivalent pronoun would be el, lo, los, on, or se:

Quantifiers

Quantifiers are determiners that help express the amount or quantity of the noun’s referent:

The plural marker -s is the most basic quantifier. A noun phrase that includes a plural noun does not require any other determiner:

As well as being the indefinite article, un is the number “one”. It indicates a single quantity of the noun’s referent. The noun must therefore be countable but singular:

The other cardinal numbersdu, tre, cuatro, etc – are likewise quantifiers.

Multe indicates a large quantity of the noun’s referent. It means “many” with a plural countable noun, and “much” with an uncountable noun:

Poca is the opposite of multe, and indicates a small quantity. It means “few” with a plural countable noun, and “little” with a uncountable noun:

Plu means “more”. It indicates a larger quantity of the noun’s referent, and can be used with plural and uncountable nouns. La plu means “most” – the largest quantity:

Min is the opposite of plu, and means “less” or “fewer”. It indicates a smaller quantity, and can be used with plural and uncountable nouns. La min means “least” or “fewest”:

All quantifiers can be converted to pronouns.

Similarity determiners

Four additional determiners are concerned with similarity and difference:

La mesma means “the same”. The word la cannot normally be omitted, although it can be changed to esta or acel:

Otra means “other”:

Tal means “such”, i.e. of this or that kind:

Propre means “own”, as in “my own”, emphasizing the possessor of the noun. It is particularly useful after the determiner sua to clarify that the meaning is reflexive, i.e. that the noun belongs to the subject of the sentence:

Order of determiners

The determiners follow a certain order:

For example:

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