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 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

Hello Ankur,

Please remember that, as I said in the first answer, negative sentences with 'all' often sound very unnatural, including those with 'all of', even when they are possible grammatically. They are often ambiguous, meaning that they can mean several things, and can usually be better phrased with a different quantifier and a positive verb.

The sentence 'All of the button cells cannot be charged againis an example of this kind of ambiguity. It could mean either that some of the buttons can be charged (but not all) or that none of them can be charged; it is not clear. This is why it would be better to use an alternative phrasing:

Some / Only some of the button cells can be charged again.

None of the button can be charged again.

Similarly, the sentence 'All of the teachers are not good' is ambiguous. I would use one of these phrasings:

Some / Only some of the teachers are good.

None of the teachers are good.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter . You have been a great help.

Regards,

Thanks Peter. So in the example given by me in my earlier comment...would you say that since the statement is framed incorrectly, its meaning becomes ambiguous and can be taken to mean whichever angle you look at it in a true/false context.

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