Quantifiers in English
- A Lot Of / Lots Of
- Much / Many
- Few / Little
- Some / Any
- Quantifiers with Of
Quantifiers are adjectives and adjectival phrases that answer the questions "How much?" and "How many?" We use quantifiers before a noun, an article or a determiner to describe quantity and amount.
My grandmother has a lot of books at home.
A lot of is a quantifier.
Rule 1: To choose the right quantifier, you need to determine whether the noun it refers to is countable or uncountable and consider if there is an article (the) or a determiner (these, those, yours, etc.) before a noun.
Here is how to use the most common quantifiers in English:
A Lot Of / Lots Of
Rule 2: We can use quantifiers a lot of and lots of in positive and negatives sentences, questions and with all types of nouns, as well as before articles and determiners.
Are there lots of payment methods available in your country?
The quantifier lots of used in an interrogative question with a countable noun.
These are the most flexible quantifiers in the English language. Other alternatives include plenty of, a great deal of, loads of, etc.
Much / Many
Rule 3: We use much with uncountable nouns and many with countable nouns to describe a large amount of something in positive sentences as well as negatives and questions.
There is no much milk left. How many glasses of milk do we need for the recipe?
Milk is an uncountable noun, so we place much in front of it; glasses is a countable noun, so we use the quantifier many.
Note: We can use the word so before quantifiers much/many to emphasize a very large amount of something or the word too to suggest there is more of something than needed.
There are so many sweets to try, but there is already too much sugar in my tea.
So many is used with countable noun sweets to show there is a very large amount of them; so much is used with uncountable noun sugar to express there is more sugar than needed.
Few / Little
Rule 4: We use few with countable nouns and little with uncountable nouns to describe a small amount of something in positive sentences as well as negatives and questions.
There are few things I like more than reading. Other activities bring little satisfaction when compared to diving into fictional stories.
Things is a countable noun, so we place few in front of it; satisfaction is an uncountable noun, so we use the quantifier little.
Note: We can use the word so before quantifiers few/little to emphasize a very small amount of something or the word too to suggest there is less of something than needed.
There are so few good coffee shops in this area, but I had too little time to go anywhere else.
So few is used with a countable noun coffee shops to show that there is only a small amount of places; too little is used with an uncountable noun time to express that there was less time than needed to find another place.
Note: We can use quantifiers a few and a little to also express a small number of things, but keep in mind that they express a larger amount than few and little without the particle a.
Some / Any
Rule 5: We can use the quantifiers some (in positive sentences and questions) and any (in negatives and questions) with both countable and uncountable nouns.
Some people like olives while others don't have any ideas why on earth one would eat them.
We use some in the positive part of the sentence and any in its negative part.
Note: We can use both some and any in questions, but we use some only in questions that express an offer/request or when we expect the positive answer, i.e., "yes."
Would you like some water, sir?
Some is used in a question that expresses an offer.
Rule 6: We can use enough with both countable and uncountable nouns to express that there is a sufficient amount of something in positive sentences, negatives, and questions.
There are enough toys for kids in the room.
Enough express that every kid in the room has something to play with.
Quantifiers with Of
Rule 7: We can add the word of to a quantifier to introduce a noun preceded by an article (the), a determiner (e.g., their) or a personal pronoun (e.g., them).
Many of my coworkers drink coffee at work. Only a few of them prefer tea.
We add the word of after the quantifier many to introduce a countable noun coworkers that is preceded with the determiner my. We add the word of after the quantifier a few as it comes before the personal pronoun them.
Choose the right quantifier. There are so ___ letters coming from my bank.