Quantifiers

Quantifiers or Quantitatives are a type of determiners that are used with nouns. In this lesson, we will discover their uses, rules, and more in detail.

Quantifiers  in the English Grammar

What are Quantifiers?

Quantifiers (also called Quantitatives) are special kinds of function words or phrases that we use to talk about the amount or quantity of something.

Quantitatives: Types

Quantifiers can be categorized into three groups:

  1. Quantifiers used only with countable nouns
  2. Quantifiers used only with uncountable nouns
  3. Quantifiers used with both countable and uncountable nouns

Take a look at some examples:

I have some apples.

Give me every apple you got.

I don't have any apples.

Quantitatives: Group I

Some quantitatives can be used only with countable nouns:

Take a look at some examples:

She is the author of several books.

He has a kind of low-paid jobs that few people want.

Many

'Many' is used to refer to a large number of something countable. It is common to use it in questions and in negative sentences. For example:

I don't have many friends.

Were there many children at the party?

Every and Each

'Each' and 'every' are a kind of determiner. They have similar meanings and are used with a singular countable noun.

Each member of the team is given a particular job to do.

Every member of the team is given a particular job to do.

Either, Neither and Both

We use 'both, either and neither' if we are talking about two people or things. As a determiner, 'either/neither' must come before a singular countable noun and 'both' before a singular countable noun.

Either answer is right.

Neither answer is right.

Both answers are right.

Few, a Few

'Few' and 'a few' are quantitatives meaning 'some.' We use them with plural countable nouns.

We stayed a few days in Berlin.

Few cities in Europe can match the cultural richness of Berlin.

Several

'Several' means 'more than one, but less than a lot.' Normally, we do not use it in negative or interrogative structures, only in affirmative statements. For example:

I've read "Gone with the Wind" several times.

Several children are playing a game.

suing "some" with countable nouns

Quantitatives: Group II

Some quantitatives can be used only with uncountable nouns.

Take a look at some examples:

I'd like to drink a little wine.

Can I have a bit more sugar in my coffee, please?

Much

We use 'much' before uncountable nouns. 'Much' is mainly used in questions and negative sentences. It sounds very formal in positive statements, unless it is used after 'too' or 'so.'

I don't have much money.

Do you have much free time?

You've used too much salt.

a Bit

'A bit (of)' refers to both abstract and concrete things. They are an informal alternative to 'some, or a piece of or pieces of.'

Do you need a bit of help with that?

Little, a Little

'(A) little' means 'some, but not a lot.' We use them before uncountable nouns. For example:

I still have a little milk left.

There is little chance of success.

a Good/Great Deal

'A great deal of/a good deal of' are used particularly with abstract nouns. For example:

The trip cost us a great deal of money.

I spent a good deal of time cleaning the apartment.

Less

We use 'less' on its own with singular uncountable nouns. Take a look at an example:

Doctors recommend eating less salt.

Quantitatives: Group III

We can use these quantifiers with both countable and uncountable nouns:

Take a look at some examples:

Like most students, I try not to stay up late on a school night.

I eat a lot of vegetables.

All

'All' as a determiner means 'the complete number or amount' of something. 'All' is used before a countable noun or an uncountable noun. It also comes before articles, possessives, demonstratives and numbers.

I'd given up all hope of winning the contest.

Someone has taken all my books!

Some, Any and No

The quantifiers 'some,' 'any' and 'no' are a kind of determiner. 'Some' is most common in affirmative clauses. 'Any' is most common in negative clauses and questions, but we can use 'some' when we are expecting the answer to be 'yes.'
The determiner 'no' is always used in a affirmative sentence. Do not use it in a negative sentence.

We need some apples for this recipe.

Have you got any money?

There's no food left in the fridge.

More

We can use 'more' with plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns. For example:

We need five more chairs.

More people are buying new cellphones than ever before.

a Lot of, Lots of

'A lot of' and 'lots of' are used with plural countable nouns and with singular uncountable nouns in affirmatives, negatives, and questions.

I've got lots of things to do.

I don't have a lot of time.

Enough

'Enough' can be used before uncountable and plural nouns as a determiner. Look at some examples:

There aren't enough apples to make a pie.

There isn't enough time.

Most

We use the quantifier 'most' to talk about quantities. We can use it with plural and uncountable nouns as a determiner.

She comes home late most nights.

Most tap water is drinkable.

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