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
 

Choose the correct quantifier

 

Section: 

Comments

Hello!
In the text it's said that when we are talking about members of groups in general, we can use a quantifier before of a noun. Instead, when we are talking about specific members of groups we have to use "of the" between the quantifier and the noun.
In the example written above, "Both brothers work with their father", aren't we talking about a specific pair of brothers? Is it wrong to say "Both of the brothers work with their father?
Same in this other example: "Both the supermarkets were closed". Seems like we are talking about two specific supermakets we visited, so why don't we say "Both of the supermarkets were closed"?
Thank you in advance,

Giada

Hello Giada,

You can say 'both brothers' and 'both the brothers' and also 'both of the brothers' (though this latter form is less common). The explanation you're referring to speaks about quantifiers in general. 'both' is certainly a quantifier and so follows those rules in general, but 'both' also tends to be used in certain ways. I'd suggest you read the Cambridge Dictionary's Grammar section entry on 'both' for a more thorough explanation of how it works (with examples). I think that should clear up the matter for you, but if not, please don't hesitate to ask us again here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

dear sir
instead I write: "he is studying either physics or biology", is it correct if I write: " he is studying both physics and biology" ?
instead I write: " I don't like either tea or coffee" is it correct if I write: " I don't like both tea and coffee"?
thank you

Hello lisa Tran,

The sentence

he is studying either physics or biology

means that he is studying physics or he is studying biology, but not both. We do not know which of these two he is studying, but it is one of them.

 

The sentence

he is studying both physics and biology

means he is studying two subjects: physics and biology.

In these sentences 'either' means 'one and not the other' and 'both' means 'one and the other as well'.

 

If you want to say that coffee is not good and tea is not good then neither of these sentences are very natural. Better alternatives would be:

I don't like tea or coffee

I like neither tea nor coffee.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Hello Peter M, the word - f a i r has many meaning. How I can remember all the meanings of each words???

thanks in advance!

Hello bloomberg,

I would recommend you work on each meaning separately. Look up the first one in the dictionary and study the example sentences. Maybe try to make a couple of sentences yourself. Then look up the second meaning and study it in the same way. Repeat this process with the first three or four meanings.

Then do an internet search for 'fair' and see how it's used on the pages you find. Identify which meaning is used in each case, and pay attention to how 'fair' is used.

I hope this helps you!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hello
is "hold the string at each end" similar to " hold the string at either end?
Thank you

Hello lisa Tran,

Not quite. If you hold each end then you are holding both ends. If you hold either end then you choose one end and it does not matter which.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello, please sir, am so confused about the correctness of these two sentences just because of the "percentage". I don't know which I should use in these two verbs: ARE or IS. Please help.

1) 45% (percent) of the girls in the class ARE busy doing nothing.
2) 45% (percent) of the girls in the class IS busy doing nothing.

Please, which of the sentence above is correct?
Thanks.

Hello roc1,

The verb depends upon the noun in the sentence:

45% of the girls are... [as 'girls' is plural]

45% of the money is... [as 'money' is singular]

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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