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 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

Hello widiatnala,

The sense here is that one of these alternatives must happen, and the speaker is saying that a choice must be made:

Either A or B. [one of these and not the other]

If we use 'neither' then the meaning is different. 'Neither' means 'not this and not that':

Neither A nor B. [not A and not B]

You can contrast this with 'both':

Both A and B. [A and B together]

 

I hope that helps to clarify it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew international on Wed, 06/07/2016 - 05:58

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Dear Sir Please let me know whether it is alright to use: 'Each and every child has a laptop.' Is it right to say 'Each child was given a present.' or Every child was given a present. If both are correct what is the different. Should we use 'each' only when we are talking about two people ? Regards Andrew international

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 06/07/2016 - 07:31

In reply to by Andrew international

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Hello andrew international,

After 'each' and 'every', only singular count nouns are used, so yes, your first sentence is correct. So are the second and third ones – there is no real difference in meaning between them. 'each' isn't normally used when referring to a group of two people – instead, use 'both'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew international on Tue, 05/07/2016 - 17:34

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Dear Sir Could you please tell me wheather the following sentences are correct or not. Either my sisters or brother has come. Either my sister or brothers have come. In the first sentence the verb is singular because the subject is brother and it is singular. In the second sentence the subject is brothers and it is plural so the verb is plural. Regards Andrew internationa l

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 07/07/2016 - 07:08

In reply to by Andrew international

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Hello Andrew international,

Yes, those sentences are fine. The verb agrees with the last of the subjects.

Please note that these are rather unlikely sentences. Inventing very unusual sentences to test out rules may be helpful in some ways, but it tends to lead to unnatural examples which do not feel right when read, and that feeling is important in assimilating and using grammatical rules efficiently.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir Thank you so much for clarifying this and I agree with you that they are unlikely sentences. Regards Andrew international

Submitted by Paulaxp on Sat, 21/05/2016 - 22:44

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Dear sir, I have dudes to differ NO to NONE, and NEITHER to EITHER. So, I had some wrong answers in the activities Quantifiers 2. I´m really loving this website. Best resgards, Paula

Submitted by huyentrangluu on Tue, 19/04/2016 - 07:23

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Dear Sir, Could you please explain me this sentence 'He has stolen one of my books'. Here, does 'one of my' act as quantifier? And if I want to further break down the phrase, please help me to identify the classification of each word. For example, 'my' here is possessive adjective, 'of' is preposition, and 'one' is article or pronoun? Is this correct sir? They're all confusing to me. Thank you very much and best regards, Trang

Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 20/04/2016 - 09:15

In reply to by huyentrangluu

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Hello huyentrangluu,

In this case, 'one of' is a quantifier, which is a kind of determiner, and 'my' is a possessive adjective. Note that noun phrases that follow 'one of' always have another determiner of some sort (e.g. 'my', 'these', etc.), so the word 'my' or some other determiner is needed here. 

By the way, if you're interested in this topic, a good resource is the English determiners article in the Wikipedia.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Muhammad Husnain on Thu, 14/04/2016 - 09:21

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Dear Sir, in the sentence "There are only few players in the world with his skill." the subject is plural, i think 'their skill' would be used instead of 'his skill' to balance the sentence. and the other reason i think that in this sentence we even don't know about players gender. please help me why you use 'his' here..... Regards, Muhammad Husnain

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 14/04/2016 - 13:28

In reply to by Muhammad Husnain

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Hello Muhammad,

I'm not sure what the context for this sentence is, but it sounds as if it's referring to one particular player and comparing him to others. More specifically, it's saying that his skill is almost unique, i.e. there are a few other players who have it, but not many. Saying 'their' instead of 'his' would change the meaning of the sentence to something different. 

As for your point about gender, I don't have the context for this sentence, but it sounds as if it's referring to professional athletes, who normally play in single-sex leagues, which makes comparing them to players of the other sex quite difficult. In the end, since this sentence is probably less about gender equality than the player's skill within his particular context, the author probably chose not to pursue that issue any further. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dad Andrew on Sat, 09/04/2016 - 09:48

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Dear Sir, Can the negative quantifier ‘no’ come before singular countables; i.e. are sentences like ‘I have a cat but I have no dog’ OR 'My friend has no bicycle' OR ‘There is no TV set in the room’ quite standard? Best regards, Andrey

Hello Andrey,

Count nouns after 'no' tend to be plural, but can be singular. The singular ones sound slightly unusual, but of course if you're only speaking of one person or thing, it must be singular! Please note that 'no' is usually used to emphasise a negative idea; a negative verb plus 'any' are used more commonly – so while these sentences are all perfectly correct, they have some sort of emphasis in them. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dad Andrew on Wed, 30/03/2016 - 10:57

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Dear Sir, May I use the negative quantifier 'no' with other quantifiers or numerals before the noun? E.g. can I make phrases like: There were no two men in the room. There were no a lot of people in the room. If I cannot, will you please give me the correct variants of the phrases? And, perhaps a more general question: can anything at all stand between 'no' and the noun?

Hello Dad Andrew,

To answer you general question first, off the top of my head, I can't think of any other determiners or quantifiers that could stand between 'no' and the noun it modifies, but other words are possible, e.g. adjectives: 'There are no black dresses left in the shop'. Neither of the sentences you ask about is standard – in both cases, if you change 'no' to 'not' (which negates the verb), then the sentences would be correct. 

All the best,
Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sachinmore57 on Wed, 24/02/2016 - 17:57

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Dear Sir, Neither of the supermarkets was open. (Why not "Neither of the supermarkets were open") None of the supermarkets were open. (Why not "None of the supermarkets was open") Regards Sachin

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 25/02/2016 - 06:22

In reply to by sachinmore57

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Hello Sachin,

Language is made up of conventions - in other words, the standard use of words, phrases and structures. You will, in fact, find that people use all of the examples you give here. However, the most common usage is that 'neither' takes a singular verb and 'none' takes a plural verb, so that is the convention.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by sachinmore57 on Tue, 23/02/2016 - 13:47

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Hello Sir, 'The supermarket was closed', 'Both the supermarkets were closed.' I am confused with use of article 'The'. Is it right, to use article 'The' when noun is plural? Could you please explain with example? Regards Sachin

Hello sachinmore57,

'The' can be used with both singular and plural nouns. We use it when both the speaker and the listener know which item(s) are being discussed. For more information and many examples, please take a look at our pages on articles, which you can find via the links on the right of the page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mehdi400 on Thu, 18/02/2016 - 22:46

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Good evening Sir, Can we derive a verb from the adjective populous? thank you in advance

Hello Mehdi400,

The verb from this is 'populate'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Mehdi400 on Thu, 11/02/2016 - 17:22

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Dear sir, Pleased to be in touch with you. Can use "a lot of" in negative sentences or in questions? Thank you very much in advance.

Hello Mehdi400,

Yes, you can, especially in an informal style.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by munish064 on Sat, 23/01/2016 - 18:36

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Respected Sir, Is this sentences is correct? 'He spent all his money.' I mean why of is needs here? Is it because money is uncount noun and we talking about specific group "his money" If it is so then why of is included in sentence 'All of the children live at home'? As we are talking about all children not specified one. Thanks for all your efforts. I really appreciate them Munish

Hello munish064,

In modern English, people say both 'all his money' and 'all of his money'. Generally, as the page says above, we use 'all of' when we are talking about a specific group or category:

all money = all the money anywhere, or money in general

all of the money = a specific collection of money, such as the money one person has

 

Similarly:

all children = all childen anywhere

all of the children = all of a particular group, such as in a school or a family

I hope that clarifies it for you.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by WharshaW on Tue, 19/01/2016 - 15:38

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Dear sir, Could you please tell me which sentence is the correct one? 1. Can you put some paper in the printer, please? 2. Can you put some papers in the printer, please?

Hello Harsha Wijethilake,

'Paper' is only countable when we are talking about newspapers, so the first sentence is correct here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dragos Chiva on Tue, 05/01/2016 - 11:03

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Good morning, First I would like to tell you that the activities window at Quantifiers chapter has also narrowed and the exercises cannot be solved because they cannot be read. Please do not offer me the answers as I shall postpone solving those exercises until the windows are fixed. Second I would like to ask what sort of noun is money for I have found it two times on this site so far, once being given as an example of uncount noun, then as an abstract noun. Are there multiple categories of nouns that money belongs to?

Hello Dragos,

I've now learned how to fix the problem with the exercises being narrowed and have corrected the error on this page. We're grateful that you've reported these as you see them, and please do let us know if you see any more.

You are correct about 'money' – as you can see in the dictionary, it can be used as a count and also uncount noun. Many common nouns (e.g. 'water', 'sugar') also behave in this way.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by hasheef on Mon, 19/10/2015 - 04:42

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dear sir which one is correct 1)neither of them is 2)neither of them are

Hello hasheef,

In an informal context, a plural verb can be used, but in a formal context, you should use the singular verb.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ananth Krishna on Mon, 03/08/2015 - 02:45

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Hello Sir, I am little bit confused with the usage of either and neither. They can be used interchangeably? Could you please explain me with an example? Thanks, Ananth Krishna.

Hello Ananth Krishna,

'neither' inludes the idea of negation, whereas 'either' does not; 'not either' is often used with the same meaning as 'neither'. For example, in the example sentence with 'either', you'll note that the verb is negative (and therefore 'either' doesn't need to be negative), whereas in the one with 'neither', the verb is affirmative.

You can find examples of both in the dictionary – see the search box on the lower right side of this page.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by adtyagrwl3 on Thu, 09/07/2015 - 13:54

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Dear Sir, Could you please tell me if it is necessary to use the article 'a' before 'little' in sentences. For example, 1) I have little interest in politics 2) I have a little interest in politics Which one of these sentences is correct, or are they both correct? Thank you!

Submitted by andeo on Sat, 21/03/2015 - 19:09

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Hello dear BC Team, after I read all comments about these quantifiers I can say that there are two questions that confusing me. First: look at these sentences 1. Both the supermarkets... 2. Both of the supermarkets... 3. Both supermarkets... 4. Both of supermarkets... First and second are about specific supermarkets and mean the same, and third is more general and the last one is not grammatically correct, right? And same applied for EITHER and NIETHER. Second question: Different BC authors explain the following problems in a different way. Niether John nor his friend likeS football. (singular noun "friend" and because of that "likes") Niether John nor his friends like football. (plural noun "friends" and because of that "like") But another one says following: Niether Tesco nor Safeways were open. ("Safeways is name of cafe and is singular) Please what is the rule for NIETHER...NOR concept? Thank you for great web site and wonderful and clear comments!!

Hello swxswx,

Your understanding of the sentences in your first question is correct.

As for your second question, neither + a singular noun always takes a singular verb. neither of + plural noun/pronoun also usually takes a singular verb, especially in a more formal style; but in informal contexts, a plural verb can also be used here.

The same pattern is true in constructions with neither + singular noun + nor + a different singular noun, i.e. the verb is generally singular but the plural form is not uncommon in informal contexts. I expect this is the reason you've different patterns of use.

I hope this clears the issue up for you.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jack_Wang on Sat, 14/03/2015 - 13:12

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What is the problem with the following sentences: I have spent hundreds of money on repairs. I never have much money at the end of the month. We don't have enough of information. We want every children to succeed.

Hello Jack_Wang,

What do you think is the problem with each sentence? Tell us your ideas and we'll tell you if you are right or not.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Jack_Wang, I think you are referring these sentences from above Exercise. 1. I have spent hundreds of money on repairs. In this sentence money is abstract noun. The correct way is: "I have spent hundreds of pounds/dollars/Yens/Rupees on repairs." OR "I have spent great/huge amount of money on repairs." 2. I never have much money at the end of the month. This sentence is correct because money is uncountable noun hence much can be used here. 3. We don't have enough of information. --> the correct should be: "We don't have enough information." 4. We want every children to succeed. --> "We want every child to succeed". because together with every Singular noun should be used i.e. child and not the children. Leaner English team please correct in case required..! Manoj

Hello Manoj,

Those are good explanations - thank you.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Advertgrwl on Mon, 12/01/2015 - 14:47

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Hello Sir, Thanks for this useful grammar article. I got confused above. Could you please confirm if plenty of, heaps of, a load of, loads of, and tons of, can be used with both the count and the uncount nouns? Also, could you please tell me if this sentence is correct: I have a bit of milk in my fridge Thanks, again!

Hello Advertgrwl,

Yes, what you say about those quantifiers is correct. The sentence you ask about is also correct.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anks on Mon, 05/01/2015 - 14:56

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hi... I would like to know the rules regarding use of "All" as a quantifier with negative sentences. Can all be used in a negative clause or is it to be used only in positive sentences to avoid ambiguity. I ask this in reference to the following issue needing resolution: The following question was asked in a Science exam. Q. All button cells cannot be charged again and again. True/False I read it to mean- All button cells are non-rechargeable.... Therefore the statement is False as some button cells are rechargeable. There is a contradictory view that this statement is True. The only time i see this statement as True is when written as " All button cells cannot be charged again and again but some can be." I would like to know an experts view on this and the rules if any for use of "all' with negatives. Kindly advise. Please let me know if my understanding is correct or is the ambi

Hi anks,

Sentences with 'all + noun' and a negative verb sound very unnatural and we prefer to use 'no' and a positive verb:

All seals do not eat fruit.     >     No seals eat fruit.

However, when 'all of + noun' is used we can use a negative verb:

All of the money will not be spent on this.

Best wishes,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team