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Quantifiers

Level: beginner

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.

Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns

We can use these quantifiers with both count and uncount nouns:

all some more a lot of enough
no any most lots of less

We have lots of time.
Joe has lots of friends.
I can't go out. I've got no money.
There was a lot of food but no drinks.

Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns 1

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Level: intermediate

These more colloquial forms are also used with both count and uncount nouns:

plenty of heaps of  a load of  loads of  tons of

We have loads of time.
Joe has plenty of friends.
There was heaps of food.

Level: beginner

some and any

We do not normally use the quantifier some in negative and interrogative sentences. We normally use any:

Do you have any children?
Did you see any friends?
We don't have any children.
I didn't see any friends.
We saw some lions at the zoo, but we didn't see any tigers.

but we can use some for offers and requests:

Would you like some tea?
I want some apples, please.

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Quantifiers with count nouns

Some quantifiers can be used only with count nouns:

(not) many each either (a) few
several both neither fewer 

These more colloquial forms are used only with count nouns:

a couple of hundreds of thousands of

I’ll be back in a couple of minutes.
There were hundreds of people at the meeting.

Quantifiers with uncount nouns

Some quantifiers can be used only with uncount nouns:

(not) much a bit of a little

Would you like a little wine?
Could I have a bit of butter, please?

These quantifiers are used particularly with abstract nouns such as time, money and trouble:

a great deal of a good deal of

It will probably cost a great deal of money.
He spent a good deal of time watching television.

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Level: intermediate

Members of groups

We put a noun directly after a quantifier when we are talking about members of a group in general:

Few snakes are dangerous.
Most children like chocolate.
I never have enough money.

but if we are talking about members of a specific group, we use of the as well:

Few of the snakes in this zoo are dangerous.
Most of the boys at my school play football.
He’s spent all (of) the money that we gave him.
Both (of) the chairs in my office are broken.

Note: with all and both, we don’t need to use of. We can say all the … and both the … .

both, either and neither

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.

Both the supermarkets
were closed.

All the supermarkets
were closed.

The supermarket
wasn’t open.

Neither of the supermarkets
was open.

None of the supermarkets
were open.

I don’t think the supermarket
was open.

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

I don’t think any of the supermarkets
were open.

Note that nouns with both have a plural verb but nouns with either and neither have a singular verb.

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every and each

We use the quantifiers every and each with singular nouns 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.

We do not use a determiner with every and each:

Every shop was decorated with flowers. (NOT The every shop)
Each child was given a prize. (NOT The each child)

Comments

Hello. Is the following sentence correct? What's wrong with it?
- Neither my parents was at home when I arrived.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

If you change it to 'Neither of my parents ...' it will be correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. What is the difference of "all" in the three sentences?
- All of us weren’t happy with the result.
- We all weren’t happy with the result.
- We weren’t all happy with the result.
Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

The examples are interesting!

Sentences 1 and 2 mean that 100% of the people were unhappy (i.e. nobody was happy). In these two sentences, all relates to the subject of the sentence. 

Sentence 3 means that some people were happy, but not all of them. This meaning is different from sentences 1 and 2 because of the word order: all is after the negative (weren't) in the word order. 'Not all' means that there is some quantity (i.e. greater than 0), but not as much as 100%.

Does that make sense?

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again. In the following sentence, isn't "all" an adverb relating to "happy"?
I think "not all happy" means "not very happy".
3- We weren’t all happy with the result.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

No, in this sentence, 'all' modifies the subject 'we' -- it's another way of saying 'Not all of us were happy with the result'.

When 'all' modifies the subject, it can go in the same position as an adverb. You can see more about this in this explanation of All as an adverb).

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello. Are the following sentences correct? What is the difference in meaning?
1- It's not healthy to stay in bed all day.
2- It's not healthy to stay in bed every day.
Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

All day means that you do not get up at all in a twenty-four hour period. It describes what you do on a particular day. It does tell us if you do the same on other days.

Every day means that you are in bed for multiple days without change.

It's quite possible for someone to stay in bed all day, every day.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Is it possible to say like these?
"There are heaps of pumpkins in the warehouse ."
"I saw a load pumpkins in the basket. "
" There are tons of pumpkins in the garage".

Hi Rafaela1,

Yes :) These quantity expressions are all commonly used. Your sentences 1 and 3 are correctly written. Sentence 2 needs of: a load of pumpkins.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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