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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

Thank you so much for your clarification, Mr Peter M.

Dear sir,
Could you tell me the difference between either and neither? I need to know the uses of each one

Hi omarmohamed99,

'neither' has a negative meaning, whereas 'either' speaks about one or both of two objects or people. Have you looked up these two words in the dictionary (follow the links)? The definitions and example sentences would probably be quite helpful. If you have a specific question about one or the other of them, please don't hesitate to ask.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
I went through your website well. I understood that each, every, either, neither etc takes singular verbs. I am writing my own sentences. Please let me know they right or wrong because still I have doubts. For eg. Each boy and girl has a toy. Not have. Every boy and girl has a toy. Either your brother or sister has come. Either your brothers or sister has come. Either your brother or sisters have come.
The verb is singular or plural depends on the noun after 'or.' I am I right or wrong plase let me know. It is the same with 'nor' (neither).
Thank you.
Regards

Dear Sir
I would like to know using 'a lot of and lots of eg A lot of snakes are dangerous. Lots of
snakes are dangerous. If both sentences are correct ? I would like to know the difference and also A few of them are students. Few of them are students.
Please let me know.
Thank you.

Hello Andrew international,

'A lot of' and 'lots of' have the same meaning but differ in terms of formality. 'Lots of' is more informal; 'a lot of' is neutral and can be used in both formal and informal contexts.

There is a difference between 'a few' and 'few'. 'Few' suggests not enough:

There are a few people in the square. [there is a number of people]

There are few people in the square. [there are not many - less than we expected or wanted]

 

The same distinction is true of 'a little' and 'little' for uncount nouns:

Sure I can help you. I've got a little time.

I'm afraid I have very little time today so we can't meet.

 

You can read more about this on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
I went through the above website (both, either, neither, each, every)
I am asking your help to clear the following: Every boy has a computer. Each boy has a computer. Are these two sentences correct? Can I use 'every' for persons or only for things? I understood 'every can be any number and also each can be any number.
Thank you.

Hello Andrew international,

Yes, your sentences are both correct. 'every' can be used to modify both singular words for people and things.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi dears,
in the above activity , May you please to explain more why we use "some" instead of "an " in this example (Could you give me .................... advice?) ?

Regards
Nour

Hi Nour,

The noun 'advice' is an uncount noun. We never say 'one advice' or 'an advice'. We can say 'some advice' or 'a piece of advice'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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