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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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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Hello Ankur,

Please remember that, as I said in the first answer, negative sentences with 'all' often sound very unnatural, including those with 'all of', even when they are possible grammatically. They are often ambiguous, meaning that they can mean several things, and can usually be better phrased with a different quantifier and a positive verb.

The sentence 'All of the button cells cannot be charged againis an example of this kind of ambiguity. It could mean either that some of the buttons can be charged (but not all) or that none of them can be charged; it is not clear. This is why it would be better to use an alternative phrasing:

Some / Only some of the button cells can be charged again.

None of the button can be charged again.

Similarly, the sentence 'All of the teachers are not good' is ambiguous. I would use one of these phrasings:

Some / Only some of the teachers are good.

None of the teachers are good.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter . You have been a great help. Regards,

Submitted by Kamran Ibragimov on Wed, 17/12/2014 - 16:03

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Thank you very much. Best wishes.

Submitted by Kamran Ibragimov on Tue, 16/12/2014 - 14:12

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Dear Sirs. I have checked some expressions using your help,therefore I can afford to say this website is extremely effective and helpful. Could you help me again? Is the following correct? Immense quantities of people are committing crime throughout the world. Thank you beforehand, Best wishes PS, Did I use comma before "therefore" correctly?

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 17/12/2014 - 14:43

In reply to by Kamran Ibragimov

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Hello Kamran Ibragimov,

The correct sentence would be:

Immense numbers of people are committing crime throughout the world.

The comma is fine but you need a linking word like 'so' or 'and' rather than just 'therefore'.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by mary lena on Mon, 15/12/2014 - 06:55

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Can we say "I was very much frightened/excited/unhappy or injured

Hi mary lena,

'very much' can be used before past participles in passive forms, but in general, 'very' is used before adjectives such as 'frightened', 'unhappy', etc. - 'very much' is not used in this way: 'very much unhappy'.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by nick_axe on Sat, 15/11/2014 - 10:13

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I don't know why number 9 in task 1 is incorrect can you explain to me where the mistake is?

Hello nick_axe,

This is explained under the heading 'Members of groups' above: 'enough' goes before nouns - 'enough information'. 'of the' is used only when you're speaking about very specific information already referred to previously.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by archijais on Sun, 12/10/2014 - 23:58

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thank you so much and i also want to know that asking doubts in this way is ok or am i rude according to english language....

Hello archijais,

You are welcome to ask questions about the site and its content. We are a small team with lots of work and many, many users, so if you post a lot of questions, it may take us some time to reply, but we will do our best to help you as long as the questions are related to the site.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by archijais on Thu, 09/10/2014 - 18:45

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hello.... I would like to know why the sentence 3 in task 1 is incorrect. The president shook hands with each players. and how do we know which quantifier is correct in sentence 4 of task 2. .................... that dog goes or I do! either or neither please explain me...

Hello archijais,

As you can see in the explanation above, 'We use every or each with a singular noun to mean all' - 'each' is only used with singular nouns, so it cannot go with 'players'.

'either' is the correct choice for Task 2 Question 4 because a negative form (such as 'neither') doesn't make sense here. The speaker is saying that they are unwilling to be with the dog - one of them must go.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sam Os on Thu, 25/09/2014 - 23:25

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Hi. I'd like to ask about some and any, could i say :Do you need some help?? is it grammatically correct?? thank you.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 01/10/2014 - 13:37

In reply to by Sam Os

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Hi Sam,

Yes, that is grammatically correct. You can also say 'any' in this sentence. It is sometimes suggested that a request with 'some' indicates that the speaker believes the answer will be 'yes', while a request with 'any' is more tentative. However, I would say that in most contexts both are used largely interchangeably.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by alex9997 on Sat, 09/08/2014 - 15:59

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Hi, I have some problem with either/neither. For example, which is the correct form: "No one uses faxes anymore, typewriters either" or "No one uses faxes anymore, typewriters neither"? Thanks Alex

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 26/08/2014 - 11:45

In reply to by alex9997

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Hi alex9997,

Neither of these sentences is fully correct, in my opinion. You need to use a conjunction, as follows:

No one uses faxes anymore, or typewriters.

We/People do not use faxes anymore, nor typewriters.

Remember that in these sentences 'nor' is used after a negative verb, not a positive verb.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglishTeam

Submitted by Rahul Paul on Sun, 03/08/2014 - 17:26

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Sir, Here it has been written that the quantifier "Less" can be used with both countable and uncountable noun. But, in this webpage "http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/less?q=LESS" is written that Less uses only with uncountable noun. which is correct ????

Hello Rahul Paul,

The explanation above describes the way that many English speakers use the language. Many English speakers use 'less' with count nouns, though traditionally this was incorrect and, as you point out in your Cambridge reference, many still regard it as incorrect. Indeed, it would be difficult to find it in print, but the author of this page was also thinking of what learners might hear English speakers say - and in speech, you can most certainly hear this quite often. So if you prefer to use 'less' only with uncount nouns, that's great, but don't be too surprised if you hear even native speakers use it with count nouns as well.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tala90 on Thu, 17/07/2014 - 16:24

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have few interest in politics. We don't have enough of information. There are a little people still alive who remember the Great War why these sentences are wrong??? Neither of the supermarkets was open. I don’t think either of the supermarkets was open. .....and why we use was withe two things supermarket(s) (was) isn't this plural word and should use were????????

Hello tala90,

'Interest' is an uncountable noun and so 'few' is incorrect. We would use 'little' here.


'Enough' is followed by a noun without 'of', unless the noun is a person or pronoun, or there is a determiner.  We would say '...enough words' but '...enough of my words', for example.

'People' is a countable noun and so 'little' is incorrect. We would use 'few' here.

'Either' takes a singular verb, not a plural verb.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Your answer was clarified a lot of things for me because the above article does not mention using FEW, BOTH, EVERY ... with countable nouns. Thank you

Hello Johnny,

You are welcome. Actally, the page does cover these points, in the sections headed

Some quantifiers can be used only with count nouns:

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

 

Submitted by prachyanee on Mon, 14/07/2014 - 16:04

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Why is this sentence incorrect? Neither of the houses is really what I want.

Hi prachyanee,

Are you talking about sentence 5 in the first exercise? When I check the answers, it shows this sentence as correct (which it is). Do you see something different?

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by thendral sivamani on Fri, 16/05/2014 - 09:15

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dear teacher, what is a colloquial form and examples(sentences)

Hello thendral sivamani,

A colloquial form is an informal form that is mostly used when speaking, but not so much when writing. For example, while it's very common for young people to talk about having "loads of homework", if they were writing, they would probably write "a lot of homework" instead.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nguyên Cát on Fri, 09/05/2014 - 11:46

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Hello there, I want to say thank you for a useful lesson. I have a question about using "every" and "each". Can we use them to talk both people and things? Thank you.

Hello Nguyen Cat,

Yes, both each and every can be used with both people and things. If you'd like to practise them, feel to free write a few sentences for us to review.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sdgnour2014 on Sat, 05/04/2014 - 17:45

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Hello teacher, 1- please can you tell me the difference between: Both the supermarkets were closed. Both of supermarkets were closed. Both of the supermarkets were closed. 2- Can I say: None of the supermarkets was open instead of None of the supermarkets were open.

Submitted by dg7 on Tue, 25/03/2014 - 14:08

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Hello, I was wondering about these two examples, appearing on the page: "None of the supermarkets were open", "I don't think any of the supermarkets were open". Why "none" and "any" do not take the singular verb? Thank you for your attention.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 26/03/2014 - 08:36

In reply to by dg7

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Hello dg7,

I'm not sure I can provide an answer as to 'why' this is the case, but it is one of the rules of the language.  I suppose the best reason would be that both 'none' and 'any' (used with countable nouns) are used to describe groups - none of the group - rather than individuals.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by eva yeo on Sat, 22/03/2014 - 03:22

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Hello, sir I have a question about using EITHER and NEITHER. Above the table, the either and neither use, the 'supermarkets' is in plural, however, the note state that: nouns with either and neither have a SINGULAR verb. so, how do I write? 1) I don’t think either of the supermarket's' was open. 2)I don’t think either of the supermarket was open. thank you sir.

Hi eva yeo,

either and neither always take a singular verb, but since either and neither refer to two things or people, often of + a noun phrase (e.g. of the supermarkets) comes after them. In any case, the subject of the verb is either or neither - that is why the verb is in singular despite there being a plural word (e.g. supermarkets) in the noun phrase.

The correct sentence is: "I don't think either of the supermarkets was open."

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by niccolow on Fri, 31/01/2014 - 16:54

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Greetings everybody!

First of all I'd like to say THANK YOU for your useful and well-appreciated work.

Secondly...Just to let you know That I didn't get why in the last question of this page SOME is the correct  answer...

Please, could you give me AN advice?!  

:D

Hello niccolow,

Nice question!  The answer is that 'advice' is an uncountable noun, and therefore cannot be used with the indefinite article (as the indefinite article 'a' ('an') has the meaning 'one').  I hope I have provided AN answer which gives you SOME useful advice ;)

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Henry Kamei on Thu, 19/12/2013 - 02:52

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Dear sir, I have a problem on the position and usage of Quantifier 'ALL'. Here in this sentence would it be right to write as: "His voice shook with emotion, and it was so funny to hear him, that all we longed to laugh and to cry". Or should it be 'We all' with regards, Henry

Hello Henry,

The quantifier all generally comes before nouns, but the rules are a bit different for pronouns. You can say all of + personal pronoun (following your example, all of us) or pronoun + all when the pronoun is the object of a verb (e.g., he invited us all to a party).

It's a bit more complex when the pronoun is the subject of a verb (as it is in your sentence: we all longed to laugh...), because in this case it often goes with the verb in what is called mid-position (an example of this is: My friends have all gone home now). This can be a bit tricky, but you can always say all of us instead of we all if you're not sure.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by iamsam1987 on Wed, 18/12/2013 - 15:14

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Greetings to everybody. My name is Sumeet and I teach English Grammar for competitive exams. I have the following query regarding Determiners-

1) Will it be incorrect If I say that Quantifier is one of the categories of Determiners?

2) Could we say that all the Quantifiers are Determiner but not all the Determiners are Quantifiers?

Hello Sumeet,

The answer to both your questions is 'yes'.  Quantifiers are one kind of determiner, but there are other kinds of determiner which are not quantifiers.

You can find more information on quantifiers and determiners here.  You might also take a look at this Wikipedia page.

As you are a teacher, you may find our site for teachers of English useful:

http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much Peter for your prompt and kind reply. Your reply has been a great help to my queries. Words can not explain how grateful I am to you and to British Council. 

Sumeet

 

Hi iamsam1987,

Thanks for letting us know that you appreciate our work - it's always great to know that our efforts are appreciated!

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ritesh46 on Mon, 16/12/2013 - 22:12

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dear sir,i have some doubt which is given as-

he spent all his money,i can written as he spent all of the his money because after the spent all money.it became specific thing for that person.i know the sentence he spent all of the his money is not appear true in speaking purpose.

the sentence both the supermarkets were closed,in place of both of the supermarkets-----.because supermarkets special type of markets.

what is the difference between few & fewer , no & none.

there were party in all the street.my question in this sentence why quantifiers & determiners are put together.

what is the mean of  (not)much.

classified the specific & general group of people & thing.

sir,i give many question but i wait for many days.when you have enough then give my answer.

thanks

 

 

 

Hi yogesh,

Regarding your questions:

1. all of the his is not grammatical. Before nouns with a determiner, both all and all of are used and mean the same thing.
2. Supermarkets are just one kind of market; both the and both of the essentially mean the same thing, though both of the refers especially to two specific supermarkets, e.g. ones that were mentioned earlier in the conversation.
3. fewer is a comparative form of few. no and none are explained above on this page.
4. there were party in all the street is not grammatical: do you mean all the streets or perhaps the whole street? It is quite normal for determiners and quantifiers to go together.
5. not much is simply the negative form of much, e.g. How much time do you have? - Not much.

Could you also please format your questions in the future? If you put the phrases you are asking about inside quotation marks (" ") or in italics, it will be easier for us to understand exactly what you're asking about.

I hope this helps.

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jeany on Thu, 12/12/2013 - 10:04

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hi , would you do me a favor. I want to do some writing practice. When I finished, where i can find a teacher on this website to check for me.

thanks 

Hi again jeany,

We would love to be able to give our users individualized feedback on their writing, but unfortunately we just don't have the time or staff to do that. Perhaps you could find a teacher where you live who could help you with that?

Best wishes,

Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by NeonF007 on Fri, 06/12/2013 - 04:37

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Hi TLE team,

I have question... 

Is it correct when i say  "Neither the three of you is right.." or shall i say Neither the 

two of you is right..

 

Thanks!

Hi NeonF007,

The correct form is 'Neither of you is right'.  The word 'neither' already tells us that we are talking about two people (or things, in another context), so we don't add 'the two' to the sentence.

If we want to talk about three people (or things) then the structure of the sentence would be the same, but we would replace 'neither' with 'none', to make 'None of you is right'.  Again, we don't add a number to the sentence.  

You are correct to use a singular verb with both of these, but in modern English a plural verb is also quite common, especially in less formal contexts.

I hope that clarifies it for you.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, I have a question about that sentence that you wrote: "None of you is right", if the sentence were "None of you are right" instead of the first one, Would it be correct? By the way, thank you so much for this website, it's really helpful. Greeting from Peru. PS: Please correct any kind of mistake if I've made one.

Hello Renzo!

"None of you are right" is OK in normal conversation nowadays. This is what Peter means when he says a plural verb is also quite common, especially in less formal contexts. The plural verb is are.

Hope that helps!

Regards

Jeremy

The LearnEnglish Team