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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.

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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

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

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

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

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

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