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

When do we use few and a few?

Hello player one,

We use these with countable nouns; for uncountable nouns 'little' and 'a little' are used.

The difference in meaning is quite subtle and relates to the expectation or view of the speaker. For example:

I have a few friends. [this means I think the number of friends is fine]

I have few friends. [this means I feel lonely because I want more]

Note that the difference is not about the number of friends but rather how the speaker sees this - as enough or not enough.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter and Kirk,

I'm still not understand when I use 'either' or 'neither'. The 4th question: .................... that dog goes or I do!
The answer is either. I had 'neither' as my answer because I thought that the question was a positive sentence. Thank's for your help.

Regards,
Widiatnala

Hello widiatnala,

The sense here is that one of these alternatives must happen, and the speaker is saying that a choice must be made:

Either A or B. [one of these and not the other]

If we use 'neither' then the meaning is different. 'Neither' means 'not this and not that':

Neither A nor B. [not A and not B]

You can contrast this with 'both':

Both A and B. [A and B together]

 

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Please let me know whether it is alright to use: 'Each and every child has a laptop.' Is it right to say 'Each child was given a present.' or Every child was given a present. If both are correct what is the different. Should we
use 'each' only when we are talking about two people ?
Regards
Andrew international

Hello andrew international,

After 'each' and 'every', only singular count nouns are used, so yes, your first sentence is correct. So are the second and third ones – there is no real difference in meaning between them. 'each' isn't normally used when referring to a group of two people – instead, use 'both'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Thank you for your prompt reply. It is very clear now but assuming I am telling this to someone: Give 'each' of them a chocolate. In this case I can't use 'every.' If I use 'both' 'Give both of them a chocolate.' I mean one chocolate but in the first one each get one chocolate. (two chocolates) In such situations one has to use 'each.' I am I correct ? Please let me know
Regards
Andrew international

Hello again andrew international,

When I read 'Give each of them a chocolate', what I understand is that two or more people will get a piece of chocolate ('chocolate' can be count or uncount, and in this case with the indefinite article 'a' before it, it must be uncount). If you use 'both' instead of 'each', the meaning is the same except that it refers only to two people, not a larger group.

If you want two people to share one piece of chocolate, it would be better to word the sentence in another way to make this clear, e.g. 'Divide the chocolate and give a piece to each/both of them'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Could you please tell me wheather the following sentences are correct or not.
Either my sisters or brother has come.
Either my sister or brothers have come.
In the first sentence the verb is singular because the subject is brother and it is singular. In the second sentence the subject is brothers and it is plural so the verb is plural.
Regards
Andrew internationa l

Hello Andrew international,

Yes, those sentences are fine. The verb agrees with the last of the subjects.

Please note that these are rather unlikely sentences. Inventing very unusual sentences to test out rules may be helpful in some ways, but it tends to lead to unnatural examples which do not feel right when read, and that feeling is important in assimilating and using grammatical rules efficiently.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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