quantifiers

 

We use quantifiers when we want to give someone information about the number of something: how much or how many.

Sometimes we use a quantifier in the place of a determiner:

Most children start school at the age of five.
We ate some bread and butter.
We saw lots of birds.

We use these quantifiers with both count and uncount nouns:

 

all any enough less a lot of lots of
more most no none of some  

 

and some more colloquial forms:

 

plenty of heaps of a load of loads of tons of  etc.

 

Some quantifiers can be used only with count nouns:

 

both each either (a) few fewer neither several

 

and some more colloquial forms:

 

a couple of hundreds of thousands of etc.

 

 

Some quantifiers can be used only with uncount nouns:

 

a little (not) much a bit of

 

And, particularly with abstract nouns such as time, money, trouble, etc:, we often use:

 

a great deal of a good deal of

 

Members of groups

You can put a noun after a quantifier when you are talking about members of a group in general…

Few snakes are dangerous.
Both brothers work with their father.
I never have enough money.

…but if you are talking about a specific group of people or things, use of the … as well

Few of the snakes are dangerous.
All of the children live at home.
He has spent all of his money.

Note that, if we are talking about two people or things we use the quantifiers both, either and neither:

 

One supermarket Two supermarkets* More than two supermarkets

The supermarket was closed

The supermarket wasn't open

I don’t think the supermarket was open.

Both the supermarkets were closed.

Neither of the supermarkets was open.

I don’t think either of the supermarkets was open.

All the supermarkets were closed

None of the supermarkets were open

I don't think any of the supermarkets were open

 

*Nouns with either and neither have a singular verb.

 
Singular quantifiers:

We use every or each with a singular noun to mean all:

 

There was a party in every street.  = There were parties in all the streets.
Every shop was decorated with flowers.  = All the shops were decorated with flowers.
Each child was given a prize.  = All the children were given a prize.
There was a prize in each competition.  = There were prizes in all the competitions.

 

We often use every to talk about times like days, weeks and years:

When we were children we had holidays at our grandmother’s every year.
When we stayed at my grandmother’s house we went to the beach every day.
We visit our daughter every Christmas.

BUT: We do not use a determiner with every and each. We do not say:

The every shop was decorated with flowers.
The each child was given a prize.

Activities
 

 
Decide if sentences are correct or incorrect
Choose the correct quantifier

 

Comments

Hello dear BC Team,

after I read all comments about these quantifiers I can say that there are two questions that confusing me.

First: look at these sentences

1. Both the supermarkets...
2. Both of the supermarkets...
3. Both supermarkets...
4. Both of supermarkets...

First and second are about specific supermarkets and mean the same, and third is more general and the last one is not grammatically correct, right? And same applied for EITHER and NIETHER.

Second question:
Different BC authors explain the following problems in a different way.

Niether John nor his friend likeS football. (singular noun "friend" and because of that "likes")
Niether John nor his friends like football. (plural noun "friends" and because of that "like")

But another one says following:
Niether Tesco nor Safeways were open. ("Safeways is name of cafe and is singular) Please what is the rule for NIETHER...NOR concept?

Thank you for great web site and wonderful and clear comments!!

Hello swxswx,

Your understanding of the sentences in your first question is correct.

As for your second question, neither + a singular noun always takes a singular verb. neither of + plural noun/pronoun also usually takes a singular verb, especially in a more formal style; but in informal contexts, a plural verb can also be used here.

The same pattern is true in constructions with neither + singular noun + nor + a different singular noun, i.e. the verb is generally singular but the plural form is not uncommon in informal contexts. I expect this is the reason you've different patterns of use.

I hope this clears the issue up for you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

What is the problem with the following sentences:
I have spent hundreds of money on repairs.
I never have much money at the end of the month.
We don't have enough of information.
We want every children to succeed.

Hello Jack_Wang,

What do you think is the problem with each sentence? Tell us your ideas and we'll tell you if you are right or not.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
Thanks for this useful grammar article.

I got confused above. Could you please confirm if
plenty of, heaps of, a load of, loads of, and tons of, can be used with both the count and the uncount nouns?

Also, could you please tell me if this sentence is correct:
I have a bit of milk in my fridge

Thanks, again!

Hello Advertgrwl,

Yes, what you say about those quantifiers is correct. The sentence you ask about is also correct.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi... I would like to know the rules regarding use of "All" as a quantifier with negative sentences. Can all be used in a negative clause or is it to be used only in positive sentences to avoid ambiguity. I ask this in reference to the following issue needing resolution:

The following question was asked in a Science exam.

Q. All button cells cannot be charged again and again. True/False

I read it to mean- All button cells are non-rechargeable.... Therefore the statement is False as some button cells are rechargeable.

There is a contradictory view that this statement is True.
The only time i see this statement as True is when written as " All button cells cannot be charged again and again but some can be."

I would like to know an experts view on this and the rules if any for use of "all' with negatives. Kindly advise.

Please let me know if my understanding is correct or is the ambi

Hi anks,

Sentences with 'all + noun' and a negative verb sound very unnatural and we prefer to use 'no' and a positive verb:

All seals do not eat fruit.     >     No seals eat fruit.

However, when 'all of + noun' is used we can use a negative verb:

All of the money will not be spent on this.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Peter. Request you to pls clarify what the following two statements mean of we now write all of plus noun as we are stuck on what the statement actually means.
1. " all of the button cells cannot be charged again."...then does this statement mean that "all of the button cells are non rechargeable?
2. " All of the teachers are not good." does this statement mean...All teachers are bad.
Do let me know your answer for each of the statement above.
Regards,
Ankur

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