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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.

Quantifiers with count and uncount nouns 1

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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

Thank you sir

Hello, Teacher
Could you please explain this grammar case to me?

1- look at these sentences :

We have one less packet of salt.
We have one packet less of salt.

Can we replace "one" with the indefinite article "a" especially before the word "less" ?

2- can we use indefinite articles before the comparative words "less" and "more" ?
Ex :
We have a less chair in the room .
( I mean with this sentence that we have lack of one chair.)

3- is it grammatically correct to say :
We have less a packet of salt .
( I mean with this that we missed one packet of salt, we have lack of one packet of salt.)
And is the meaning of the sentence correct? If it's wrong, what should it be ?.

Hello Karimhadi,

1. In the first sentence you cannot replace one with a. You need to use a number:

one less packet

two less packets

 

In the second sentence I think it is possible to replace one with a, but the original version is much more common.

 

 

2. No, as with the first example, you cannot use an article here. You need to use a number.

 

3. The sentence is not correct. As with the first examples, you can say one packet lessone less packet or a packet less. The last is the least common formulation.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Many thanks for your ,sir

How many people in this class have short hair? Why is "the" not used in this sentence before "people"? "In this class" is an adjective phrase describing people so "the" should be used before people...

Hello Piyush_kashyap,

After How much and How many we do not use articles unless we use of:

How many people in this class have short hair?

How many of the people in this class have short hair?

 

The same is true with questions starting with Which:

Which people in this class have short hair?

Which of the people in this class have short hair?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

So which sentence is correct?
how many people in this class have short hair?
Or
How many of the people in this class have short hair?
What difference does " of the" make in second sentence?

Hello Piyush_kashyap,

Both sentence are correct and there is no difference in meaning. We use ...of... when we want to specify that we are choosing from a closed group rather than in general, but in your sentence the phrase in this class already makes that clear, so both sentences have the same meaning.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

This helps me a lot for reviewing the material that I already have!

when we use quantifiers it's when we have a countable and uncountable nouns. the most common that we can find are: some, any, less, a few. few, little and a little. In this site we can understand more about that.

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