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.

Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns 3

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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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both, either and neither 2

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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)

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Submitted by suliman ali 2000 on Fri, 05/05/2017 - 15:35

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Hello, Please let me know why didn't you put the preposition''of'' between All and The in the sentences in the second and third columns which are about the supermarkets...?? And thank you

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 06/05/2017 - 07:48

In reply to by suliman ali 2000

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Hello suliman ali 2000,

You can say 'all of the supermarkets' instead of 'all the supermarkets' and that is correct. The second column doesn't have 'all' in any sentence. Or do you see something different?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Imenouaer on Mon, 01/05/2017 - 17:25

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Hello again, the example mentioned above "None of the supermarkets were open" we consider this sentence as informal otherwise it would be "None of the supermarkets was open" ? and if I had to choose between the 2 options in an exam, shall I go for the formal ? Best wishes,

Hello Imenouaer,

'None' can have a singular or plural meaning.

When it means 'not one' it is followed by a singular verb.

When it means 'not any' it is followed by a plural verb.

In the sentence you quote both of these are possible. Which the speaker uses is a choice here, not a question of formality.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hanish bhati on Sat, 29/04/2017 - 03:58

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" Neither of the two girls is my sisters." sir, Is this sentence correct?

Hello Hanish bhati,

The sentence is almost correct. You need to change 'sisters' to 'sister' and then it will be correct.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ichimurohot on Wed, 15/02/2017 - 20:50

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When we are talking about ants, ants in general is an uncount noun or a count nount?

Hello ichimurohot,

You're welcome to write to us, but I'd say the best thing you can do when you have a question like this is look up the word in the dictionary. If you look at the entry for 'ant' in the Cambridge Dictionary, you'll see that it's a count noun the letter 'C' means 'count noun'. 'ants' would of course be the plural form, and if a word has a plural form, it must be a count noun.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ranahabib on Sun, 15/01/2017 - 22:13

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Hi! The last question in the activity is Can you give me some advice? Although we hear people say an advice all the time. Why is an advice wrong? I explained to my students that advice is a non-count noun- you say a piece of advice, a sound advice.
hello ranahabib, yes, you are right advice in uncountable noun. 'a piece of advice' is right. best regards. Afia shakir khan

Hi ranahabib,

'Advice' is an uncountable noun and so we do not use 'an' before it. You can say 'some advice' or 'a piece of advice', as you say. You can use the adjective 'sound', but only to modify 'advice' in the same phrases - 'some sound advice', 'a piece of sound advice'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you! That's exactly what I explained to my students. I just wanted to confirm that :) I appreciate your prompt reply!

Submitted by naghmairam on Fri, 13/01/2017 - 07:19

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Can we say ' Would you like a biscuit'? or Would you like a sandwich?

Submitted by marwa kassoumeh on Fri, 06/01/2017 - 15:04

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Good evening .. can anyone explain how to use "either/neither" ? I tried to understand what the difference between them by reading the examples which have been written above but I didn't get the idea yet ! Thanks for ur help . :)

Hello marwa kassoumeh,

We use these words when we are talking about two items (not more).

Imagine we have two cars - one red and one blue.

Both cars or both of the cars means the red one and the blue one.

Either car or either of the cars means one car, and it doesn't matter if it is the red one or the blue one.

Neither car or neither of the cars means not the red one and not the blue one.

 

I hope that clarifies it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

sorry but it's still not clear to me .. let me say how I understood that and please tell me if it was right or not .. we use "either" when the sentence is positive .. i.e. A: which car do you prefer , the blue or the red one? B : it doesn't matter , either the blue or the red one is ok . and we use neither for negative sentence .. i.e. A: which car do you prefer , the blue or the red one? B : I don't like neither the blue or the red one . one more thing , please can you tell me more examples and when do we use these two words ; I mean in which cases do we use them ? lots of thanks :)

Hello marwa kasoumeh,

That is almost correct. However, 'neither' already has a negative meaning so we do not use a negative verb form with it:

A: Which car do you prefer, the blue or the red one?
B : I like neither the blue or the red one.

I'm afraid we can't list multiple examples for every structure. I suggest you take another look at the examples I provided in my first answer, which were as clear as I can make them. If you need more examples then you simply need to change the nouns used!

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello again :D Your last clarification was really perfect .. thank you a lot :)

Submitted by naghmairam on Fri, 06/01/2017 - 07:40

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Hi, In the above example, 'all of the children' does not refer to any specific group'; it refers to all the children. Why don't we say ' all the children'? Similarly, 'all of his money' means 'all his money'. Then what is the use of 'of'? Kindly explain.

Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 06/01/2017 - 09:44

In reply to by naghmairam

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Hello naghmairam,

The basic difference between 1) 'all children' and 2) 'all of the children' (or 'all the children') is that 1 refers to children in general, i.e. a specific group of children has not been mentioned and 2 refers to a specific group of children that has already been mentioned. The word 'the' (not 'of') is what makes it clear that a specific group has been mentioned.

So, for example, I could say 'All children in Spain must go to school until they are 16'. This sentence refers to every child in Spain, not to those in one place or another inside Spain. But if I'm talking about a more specific group, e.g. the kids at a specific school, I'd say 'All the children learn to swim' or 'All of the children learn to swim' to refer to them.

After 'all', 'of' is usually optional - sometimes we say it, and sometimes we don't, with no change in meaning. But there is an important exception: if we use 'all' before a noun with no determiner (e.g. 'the' or 'her'), then 'of' is not used. For example, we can say 'all children', 'all the children', 'all of the children', 'all her children' but not 'all of children' (because there is no determiner such as 'the' or 'her').

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by Agnes Nguyen on Mon, 02/01/2017 - 02:39

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Hi there, E.g More than one student has tried this. Can "more than, much than" be dubbed as quantifiers and "more than one" takes a singular verb? Many thanks!

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 02/01/2017 - 08:37

In reply to by Agnes Nguyen

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Hi Agnes Nguyen,

If 'more than one' is followed by a singular noun then the verb is singular:

More than one person is going to the party.

Sometimes there is a plural noun after it and then the verb is plural:

More than one of the people have agreed.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by manuel24 on Mon, 21/11/2016 - 11:36

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hello, I would to know if the following sentence is correct: "I had no less than a hundred offers for my car". If it is correct I have to ask why there is not "fewer" instead of "less" as there is a countable noun.

Hello manuel24,

As you suggest, 'fewer' is really the correct quantifier here (and not 'less', which is for uncount nouns). Many native speakers, however, often use 'less' where they should use 'fewer', so I wouldn't be surprised if you've seen or heard it somewhere.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Irene93 on Sun, 13/11/2016 - 18:17

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Good evening , In second sentence of the task " He has * time to play with his children" why the correct answer is the "little " and not the "few" ? Thank you

Hello Irene93,

In this context 'time' is an uncountable noun and so we use 'little' and not 'few'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Afia shakir khan on Fri, 04/11/2016 - 14:02

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hi, sir please tell me which sentence is right. 1. either you speak English or leave from here. it depends on you () 2. you either speak English or leave from here. it depends on you.()

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 05/11/2016 - 07:21

In reply to by Afia shakir khan

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Hi Afia shakir khan,

Both of these are possible and there is no real difference in meaning. However, we would not use 'from' in this way - 'leave here' is the correct form.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Giada on Mon, 26/09/2016 - 11:33

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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

Submitted by Kirk on Mon, 26/09/2016 - 13:11

In reply to by Giada

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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

 

Submitted by lisa Tran on Mon, 05/09/2016 - 14:11

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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

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 06/09/2016 - 05:39

In reply to by lisa Tran

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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

Submitted by lisa Tran on Mon, 29/08/2016 - 15:41

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

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 30/08/2016 - 08:00

In reply to by lisa Tran

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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

Submitted by roc1 on Tue, 16/08/2016 - 18:46

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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

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

Submitted by Quezia Damaris… on Sat, 13/08/2016 - 14:04

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Hi, In this frase: He knows ____ English. He knows enough English to manage. Can i use "lots of" as a quantifier? And if i don't why? Thanks

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 13/08/2016 - 20:24

In reply to by Quezia Damaris…

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Hi Quezia Damaris Vasconcelos,

The sentence 'He knows lots of English' is perfectly fine.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew international on Sat, 06/08/2016 - 18:48

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Dear Sir Would you please explain this to me? A cow is a useful animal.= Cows are useful animals. The cow is a useful animal. = Cows are useful animals. Either we use A or The it gives the same meaning. I am I right or wrong? THANK YOU. REGARDS

Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 07/08/2016 - 09:29

In reply to by Andrew international

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Hello Andrew international,

Yes, that's right, all three sentences can mean essentially the same thing, though within different contexts they can mean different things. Of the three forms, the most commonly used one is with the plural subject with no article ('Cows are ...').

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by thaonguyen2314 on Tue, 02/08/2016 - 08:35

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Dear Sir, Example: Few snakes are dangerous Few of snakes are dangerous I don't understand difference between members of group and specific group. Please let me know. Thanks,

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 03/08/2016 - 05:59

In reply to by thaonguyen2314

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Hello thaonguyen2314,

Take a look at these two sentences:

Few snakes are dangerous.

This means that not many snakes are dangerous - it is talking about snakes in general.

Few of the snakes are dangerous.

This means that not many of a particular group of snakes are dangerous. It does not refer to snakes in general, but only some snakes. For example, you might be talking about the snakes in a particular zoo, or the snakes which live in Britain. Unlike the first sentence this describes a selected group - which group should be clear from the context.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by player one on Wed, 27/07/2016 - 12:06

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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

Submitted by widiatnala on Sat, 09/07/2016 - 13:26

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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