Partitives are used to refer to an amount or number of something. Follow the article to learn more about them.

Partitives in the English Grammar

What Are Partitives?

Partitives are phrases that are used to refer to a definite or an indefinite amount of something.

Types of Partitives

We have two types of partitives:

  1. Definite partitives
  2. Indefinite partitives

Definite Partitives

'Definite partitives' are used to refer to an exact amount or number of something. Definite partitives can be used before an uncountable or countable noun. Here are the examples of the most common definite partitives:

  1. Spoon of
  2. Bunch of
  3. Flock of
  4. Bottle of
  5. Piece of
  6. Slice of
  7. Glass of

These partitives are always followed by the preposition 'of' and we can use articles before them. Check out these examples for more clarification:

Add two glasses of milk to the mixture.

They bought six pairs of shoes for the poor.

The girl had only one piece of cake.

Indefinite Partitives

'Indefinite partitives' are used to refer to an indefinite, or unexact number or amount of something. Here are the most important indefinite partitives on the list:

using the partitive 'piece of' in a sentence

Take a look at the examples with the indefinite partitives:

A lot of our students passed the exams.

Many of his friends were doctors.

Pour some of the water on her face.

Concrete or Abstract Nouns?

'Partitives' can define the amount or number of a concrete noun that is easy to touch or an abstract idea which you cannot touch at all. Here are the examples:

We have watched a game of football.

He was suffering from a sense of guilt.

I have cut a pile of wood.

Partitives: Structure

Here are the common rules of using partitives in English. Learning the rules helps you understand them better.

1- Pre-determiners

One of the important points is that the partitive phrases are always used as 'pre-determiners.' This is why we are able to use articles or other determiners after them. For example:

Lots of the animals were hunted by the hunters. → with determiner (the)

A group of her students protested against the injustice regarding the exams. → with determiner (her)

Two cloves of garlic were used to make the sauce. → without determiner


Some of the indefinite partitives can be used alone and not followed by the preposition of. In this case, they turn into indefinite quantifiers that are used as post-determiners. Here are the examples:

Some animals live on farms.

Those many moments together make it hard to forget her.

2- Plurality

Countable nouns are always used in plural form after the partitives. However uncountable nouns are always used in singular form after partitives. Check out the examples:

Some of the workers are not satisfied with the boss.

Use a spoonful of sugar in your coffee.

3- Plural Partitives

You can use 'plural partitives' if it is possible based on the meaning of the sentence. Check out the examples:

Lots of fruits were grown on this farm.

We have bought two pairs of pants.

A number of goods were imported from China.


Partitives are words that are used before a noun to refer to only a part of the particular noun. There are two types of partitives as follows.

  1. Definite partitives
  2. Indefinite partitives


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