Saturday, 16 April 2011


Quantifiers are adjectives and adjectival phrases that give approximate answers to the questions "How much?" and "How many?"
I've got a little money.
I've got a lot of friends.



Quantifiers with countable
and uncountable nouns

Adjectives and adjectival phrases that describe quantity are shown below. Some can only go with countable nouns (friends, cups, people), and some can only go with uncountable nouns (sugar, tea, money, advice). The words in the middle column can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.
Only with
uncountable nouns
With uncountable
and countable nouns
Only with
countable nouns
How much? How much? or How many? How many?
a little no/none a few
a bit (of) not any a number (of)
- some (any) several
a great deal of a lot of a large number of
a large amount of plenty of a great number of
- lots of -
+ noun
Note: much and many are used in negative and question forms.
  • How much money have you got?
  • How many cigarettes have you smoked?
  • There's not much sugar in the cupboard.
  • There weren't many people at the concert.
They are also used with too, (not) so, and (not) as :There were too many people at the concert - we couldn't see the band.
It's a problem when there are so many people.
There's not so much work to do this week.
In positive statements, we use a lot of:
  • I've got a lot of work this week.
  • There were a lot of people at the concert.

A few and few, a little and little

These expressions show the speaker's attitude towards the quantity he/she is referring to.
A few (for countable nouns) and a little (for uncountable nouns) describe the quantity in a positive way:
  • "I've got a few friends" (= maybe not many, but enough)
  • "I've got a little money" (= I've got enough to live on)
Few and little describe the quantity in a negative way:
  • Few people visited him in hospital (= he had almost no visitors)
  • He had little money (= almost no money)


Some and any are used with countable and uncountable nouns, to describe an indefinite or incomplete quantity.
Some is used in positive statements:
  • I had some rice for lunch
  • He's got some books from the library.
It is also used in questions where we are sure about the answer:
  • Did he give you some tea? (= I'm sure he did.)
  • Is there some fruit juice in the fridge? (= I think there is)
Some is used in situations where the question is not a request for information, but a method of making a request, encouraging or giving an invitation:
  • Could I have some books, please?
  • Why don't you take some books home with you?
  • Would you like some books?
Any is used in questions and with not in negative statements:
  • Have you got any tea?
  • He didn't give me any tea.
  • I don't think we've got any coffee left.
More examples:
SOME in positive sentences.
a. I will have some news next week.
b. She has some valuable books in her house.
c. Philip wants some help with his exams.
d. There is some butter in the fridge.
e. We need some cheese if we want to make a fondue.

SOME in questions:
a. Would you like some help?
b. Will you have some more roast beef?

ANY in negative sentences
a. She doesn't want any kitchen appliances for Christmas.
b. They don't want any help moving to their new house.
c. No, thank you. I don't want any more cake.
d. There isn't
any reason to complain.

ANY in interrogative sentences
a. Do you have any friends in London?
b. Have they got any children?
c. Do you want any groceries from the shop?
d. Are there any problems with your work?

THE QUANTIFIERS: Compound nouns made with SOME, ANY and NO

Some + -thing -body -one -where
Any +
No +
Compound nouns with some- and any- are used in the same way as some and any.
Positive statements:
  • Someone is sleeping in my bed.
  • He saw something in the garden.
  • I left my glasses somewhere in the house.
  • Are you looking for someone? (= I'm sure you are)
  • Have you lost something? (= I'm sure you have)
  • Is there anything to eat? (real question)
  • Did you go anywhere last night?
Negative statements:
  • She didn't go anywhere last night.
  • He doesn't know anybody here.
NOTICE that there is a difference in emphasis between nothing, nobody etc. and not ... anything, not ... anybody:
  • I don't know anything about it. (= neutral, no emphasis)
  • I know nothing about it (= more emphatic, maybe defensive)
More examples:
a. I have something to tell you.
b. There is something to drink in the fridge.
c. He knows somebody in New York
d. Susie has somebody staying with her.
e. They want to go somewhere hot for their holidays.
f. Keith is looking for somewhere to live.

a. Is there anybody who speaks English here?
b. Does anybody have the time?
c. Is there anything to eat?
d. Have you anything to say?
e. He doesn't have anything to stay tonight.
f. I wouldn't eat anything except at Maxim's.

a. There is nobody in the house at the moment
b. When I arrived there was nobody to meet me.
c. I have learnt nothing since I began the course.
d. There is nothing to eat.
e. There is nowhere as beautiful as Paris in the Spring.
f. Homeless people have nowhere to go at night.

ANY can also be used in positive statements to mean 'no matter which', 'no matter who', 'no matter what':
a. You can borrow any of my books.
b. They can choose anything from the menu.
c. You may invite anybody to dinner, I don't mind.

THE QUANTIFIERS: Graded Quantifiers

They function like comparatives and hold a relative position on a scale of increase or decrease.
INCREASE From 0% to 100%
With plural countable nouns:
many more most
With uncountable nouns:
much more most
DECREASE From 100% to 0%
With plural countable nouns:
few fewer fewest
With uncountable nouns:
little less least
  • There are many people in England, more in India, but the most people live in China.
  • Much time and money is spent on education, more on health services but the most is spent on national defence.
  • Few rivers in Europe are not polluted.
  • Fewer people die young now than in the seventeenth century.
  • The country with the fewest people per square kilometre must be Australia.
  • Scientists have little hope of finding a complete cure for cancer before the year 2,000.
  • She had less time to study than Paul but had better results.
  • Give that dog the least opportunity and it will bite you.


Enough is placed before the noun, to indicate the quantity required or necessary:
  • There is enough bread for lunch.
  • She has enough money.
Enough is also used with adjectives and adverbs - see these sections.
  • We didn't have enough time to visit London Bridge.
  • Are there enough eggs to make an omelette?
  • Richard has enough talent to become a singing star.

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