# 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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Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns 2

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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.

some and any 1

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some and any 2

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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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Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns 4

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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.

both, either and neither 1

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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 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)

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 28/06/2021 - 11:18

Hello. Could you please help me? Is the following sentence correct? Why? Explain more please. I asked all my colleagues about my lost dictionary, but neither of them saw it. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

This sentence isn't correct. 'all' normally refers to more than two people (or things), and it can only refer to three or more when you find 'neither' (which only refers to two people or things) in the same sentence.

If you're speaking about three or more colleagues, you should say 'none' instead of 'neither'. If you're speaking about two, you should say 'both' instead of 'all'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Wed, 21/04/2021 - 21:08

Hello. Could you please help me? Which sentence is correct? Why? 1- There were four books on the table. Each book was a different colour. 2- There were four books on the table. Every book was a different colour. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

In this context both are possible.

We use each when we are thinking of all of the individuals, and every when we want to talk about the group as a whole; every is similar to ‘all’ or ‘everybody’.

The main different between them in terms of meaning is that we can use each to talk about two or more things but we can only use every when there are more than two.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter
I just want to know the writer of this post because i want to cite some information from this post in my research paper.

Hello Ahmed Saboro,

Do you mean the author of this explanation of Quantifiers? If so, his name was David Willis.

Hope this helps you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Fri, 02/04/2021 - 13:44

Neither of the options doesn’t work. ;)

Submitted by yaya aly on Wed, 31/03/2021 - 18:10

we had a great weekend as the weather was perfect (all) or (both) days

Hello yaya aly,

'both days' is best here. 'all' usually refers to at least three items.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by yaya aly on Wed, 31/03/2021 - 18:07

which one is correct ? either of them seems interested in the offer. or neither of them seems interested in the offer.

Hello yaya aly,

The second one (with 'neither') is the correct option here.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Thu, 04/03/2021 - 12:43

Loads of time, heaps of food, and a great deal of money will ruin man. ;)

Submitted by mynameiscg on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 11:37

Dear sir, Could you tell me whether this following sentence is grammatically or not? - I don’t play soccer and neither does John. Have a good day .

Submitted by Jonathan R on Wed, 03/03/2021 - 15:53

In reply to by mynameiscg

Hi mynameiscg,

Yes, it's correct :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Tue, 02/03/2021 - 19:48

Hello Team. Which sentence is correct? 1- I looked at two sweaters, but I didn't buy either of them. 2- I looked at two sweaters, but I didn't buy both of them. Thank you.

Submitted by Quynh Nhu on Tue, 15/12/2020 - 01:37

Hello team, I have 2 questions about "either A or B " structure. The first question is that the verb behind subject "either A or B " will follow A or B. For example: "Either I or my coworkers am going to help you". Is this grammatically correct? Secondly, when I read some newspaper , I saw they used "either on Wednesday or Thursday". I thought it had to be "either on Wednesday or on Thursday" or "on either Wednesday or Thursday". Please tell me which one is correct. Have a nice day.

Hello Quynh Nhu,

The verb following this structure should agree with the final item. If the final item is third-person, then the verb will agree with this:

Either I or Bob is going to help you.

When the preposition is repeated you can omit it. Thus it's fine to omit the second 'on' in your example. Obviously, if the preposition is different then it needs to be included:

I can meet you on Wednesday or (on) Thursday.

I can meet you in the week or at the weekend, which ever you prefer.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alex Woods on Thu, 10/12/2020 - 00:24

Hello I am confused in the part where you say “ Neither of the supermarkets was open.” Why are you using was when the noun is plural? Wouldn’t it be more like: “Neither of the supermarkets where open.” ? Thanks, have a good week forward

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 10/12/2020 - 17:00

In reply to by Alex Woods

Hello Alex Woods,

The subject of the verb here is not just 'the supermarkets', it's 'neither of the supermarkets'. 'neither' is singular, and so a singular verb like 'was' is correct.

People also use a plural verb (like 'were') here too, though, since the whole phrase refers to more than one supermarket.

By the way, our site is for people who are 18 or older. I'd suggest you have a look at our sister site LearnEnglish Teens.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Omyhong on Mon, 23/11/2020 - 06:57

Good day, sir. I would like to know if neither/nor take a singular or plural verb. What about either...or? Does it depend on which subject is closer to the verb? Thank you.

Hello Omyhong,

Both singular and plural verbs are possible. Using a singular verb is a bit more formal than using a plural one.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sun, 01/11/2020 - 18:28

Hello. What is the difference between the two sentences? - Tom is too careful to make very few mistakes. - Tom is careful enough to make very few mistakes. Thank you.

Hello again Ahmed Imam,

The first sentence does not really make sense. We would say omit 'very few':

Tom is too careful to make mistakes.

The sentence tells us that because Tom is careful, he does not make many mistakes, so we need something which means 'not many', 'not a lot', 'not a huge number of' etc. This sentence implies that if Tom were less careful then he would make more mistakes, and (with the change above) it has a very similar meaning to the second sentence.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sun, 01/11/2020 - 18:17

Hello. Is the following sentence correct? - I'm too busy going to work every day. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Grammatically, the sentence is fine. Obviously, whether or not it makes sense in a given context will depend on the context.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 26/10/2020 - 11:01

Hello. Could you please help me? Is the following sentence correct? Why? - Too heavy is the table to move. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

No, I'm afraid that's not correct. I'd recommend 'The table is too heavy to move'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sat, 17/10/2020 - 21:30

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

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Thu, 15/10/2020 - 19:39

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

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 18:02

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

Submitted by Rafaela1 on Thu, 08/10/2020 - 12:27

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

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 05/10/2020 - 20:40

Hello. Is the following sentence correct or there is something wrong? If it is wrong, how can I say it correctly? - There are times when people can't work so hard to live comfortably. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

No, the sentence is not correct. If I understand you correctly, then you want to say that sometimes it's not possible for people to live comfortably, no matter how hard they work. If so, you could say this:

There are times when people can't live comfortably, no matter how hard they work.

There are times when people can't live comfortably, however hard they work.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again Peter. What about the following one? Is it correct? - There are times when people can't work hard enough to live comfortably. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

The sentence is fine grammatically, but I'm not sure it means what you intend.

The suggestion in your sentence is that people could live comfortably if they were able to work harder. In other words, it suggests that the problem is with the people and their inability to work hard, not with the circumstances around them.

In my examples, the meaning was different. My sentences meant that people work hard, but it is not enough. In other words, they cannot achieve a comfortable life even if they work hard.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 02/10/2020 - 08:12

Hello. Are the following two sentences correct? If so, What is the difference between them? - Ali neither wrote nor phoned. - Neither did Ali write nor did he phone. Thank you.

Hi Ahmed Imam,

Yes, both are correct, and the meaning is the same. But the second sentence, with its greater amount of structural repetition, sounds more formal in style.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pyae phyo maung on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 10:47

Hi sir , I was wondering about There was a lot of food and no drinks Why drink has s ? Thank you

Hi Pyae phyo maung,

Drink is a countable noun and has a plural form. When we use no to mean not any, we use the plural:

There weren't any drinks > There were no drinks.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Dawoud on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 23:31

Why are my comments unpublished?!

Hello Ahmed Dawoud,

All comments on LearnEnglish are moderated before they are published. That means a member of the LearnEnglish Team reads your comment to ensure it complies with site rules and is not advertising/spam etc.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ahmed Dawoud on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 21:02

Hi, Please could you tell me what is the correct choice and why ? I bought two books but I haven't read ( either / both ) of them yet. Thanks in advance

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 26/06/2020 - 06:44

In reply to by Ahmed Dawoud

Hi Ahmed Dawoud,

The correct choice here is either with the meaning not one and not the other.

It's unusual to use 'both' in a negative sentence. We can do it when we want to express the meaning of only one and not the other, and we need to include a phrase to make this clear:

I bought two books but I haven't read both, only one of them so far.

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team