Quantifiers / Determiners
Usage of quantifiers / determiners:
A few and few, a little and little Graded Quantifiers Some or Any? Something, Anything, Someone, Anyone etc. Enough
A few and few, a little and little
These expressions show the speaker's attitude towards the quantity he/she is referring to. Little is used with uncountable nouns: There is little water left, so drink only what you must. I have little reason to think they will help. Few is used with plural nouns: There are few men who are capable of doing it. I know few places that I could recommend to you. Used in this way, little and few have somewhat negative meanings: I have little reason to think they will help = I would like to have more reason, but unfortunately I haven't. I know few places that I could recommend to you = I would like to be able to recommend more places, but unfortunately there aren't more. Few people visited him in hospital (= he had almost no visitors) He had little money (= almost no money) Used in this way, little and few are also quite formal. We can say the same thing in a less formal way by using not much and not many: I don't have much reason to think they will help. I don't know many places that I could recommend to you. When we use the indefinite article a before little and few, it has a more positive meaning, similar to some: We've got a little bread = We've got some bread. We've got a few biscuits = We've got some biscuits. Before a pronoun or a determiner, (a) little of and (a) few of are used: Take a little of this and a little of that. Sorry, but we only have a little of it. Take a few of these and a few of those. Sorry, but we only have a few of them. 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)
They are like comparatives and hold a relative position on a scale of increase or decrease. INCREASE (0% to 100%) With plural countable nouns: many With uncountable nouns: much DECREASE (100% to 0%) With plural countable nouns: few With uncountable nouns: little less least fewer fewest more most more most
Examples: There are many people in Poland, 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 defense. Few rivers in Europe aren’t polluted. Fewer people die young now than in the nineteenth 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 2010. She had less time to study than I did but had better results. Give that dog the least opportunity and it will bite you.
Quantifiers with countable and uncountable nouns
Some adjectives and adjectival phrases can only go with uncountable nouns (salt, rice, money, advice), and some can only go with countable nouns (friends, bags, people). The words in the middle column can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns. With Uncountable Nouns How much? a little a bit (of) With Both How much? or How many? no/none not any some (any) a great deal of a large amount of a lot of plenty of With Countable Nouns How many? a few a number (of) several a large number of a great number of
a large quantity of
a majority of
Note: much and many are used in negative and question forms. 2
Example: 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 party. They are also used with too, (not) so, and (not) as There were too many people at the party. 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.
- What word do you need to complete the sentence? Few / a few / little / a little? 1. ______ learning is a dangerous thing. (a little) 2. I've had ______ drinks but I'm not drunk. (a few) 3. You won't change her mind so there is ______ use in trying. (little) 4. Michael Cane was born in South London, not the East End. ______ people know that. (few) 5. I need ______ help. I'm a bit stuck. (a little) 6. There weren't many people there. Just ______. (a few) 7. Will you have ______ strawberries? They're very good. (a few) 8. Will you have ______ more ice-cream? We might as well finish it. (a little) 9. There's ______ point in continuing. We're all too tired. (little) 10. Could you spare me ______ minutes? (a few) 11. I don't know if we can fit the cupboard into our house. There's ______ space as it is. (little) 12. All this kitten needs is ______ love and attention. (a little) 13. There's ______ I can do about this. It's outside my control. (little) 14. Martin is a good student. He has ______ problems with English. (few) 15. Generally Peter is good but sometimes he has ______ problems. (a few) 16. I need to borrow ______ dollars. Can you help me out? (a few) 17. We made good time because there was ______ traffic on the road so early in the morning. (little) 18. I think Coventry will win the match but ______ people agree with me. (few) 19. I can only speak ______ words of Chinese. (a few) 20. I'm going to give you ______ advice. Study harder! (a little) - In the following sentences, fill in the gaps with one of the following quantifiers: A FEW | A GREAT DEAL | A LITTLE | A LOT | A LOT OF | A MAJORITY OF | ENOUGH | MANY | MUCH OF | PLENTY | SEVERAL OF | SOME 1. I'm having _______ of trouble passing my driving exam. [a lot] 2. _______ the movies were rated PG. [several of] 3. _______ information proved to be outdated. [some] 4. We're close to the project deadline, but there is still _______ time left. [a little] 5. Although there are _______ brilliant students in this state -- thousands, even, only _______ will choose to remain in the state after graduation. [many / a few] 6. We were able to destroy _______ the parasites with our antigen, but _______ of them survived to cause trouble. [a majority of / enough] 7. _______ a student has passed through these doors. [Many] 8. Although _______ of the lawn is open to the sun, there are _______ of shade trees to make it comfortable. [A great deal of / plenty] 9. I think he drank _______ wine last night. [a lot of] 10. _______ the evidence was taken from the police safe last night. [Much of]
- Choose the correct answers in the following dialogue: CHRIS: Hi! What are you up to? PETE: Oh I'm just looking for _______ antiques at this sale. (a) many (b) some (c) any CHRIS: Have you found _______ yet? (a) something (b) anything (c) nothing PETE: Well there seems to be _______ things of interest. It really is a shame. (a) a few (b) few (c) little CHRIS: I can't believe that. I'm sure you can find _______ interesting if you look in _______ stall. (a) a thing / all (b) something / each (c) anything / some PETE: You're probably right. It's just that there are _______ collectors and they _______ seem to be set on finding _______ of value. It's so stressful competing with them! (a) a few / every / a thing (b) a lot / each / much (c) a lot of / all / anything CHRIS: How _______ antique furniture do you think there is? (a) many (b) much (c) few PETE: Oh I'd say there must be _______ pieces. However only _______ are really worth _______ prices they are asking. (a) several / a few / the high (b) many / few / a high (c) much / little / high CHRIS: Why don't you take a break? Would you like to have _______ coffee? (a) any (b) some (c) little PETE: Sure I'd love to have _______. I could use _______ minutes of downtime. (a) any / some (b) little / a little (c) one / a few CHRIS: Great, let's go over there. There're _______ seats left. (a) a few (b) some (c) little - In the following sentences, fill in the gaps with one of the following quantifiers: much, many, lots of, a lot of, little, most, a little, little, a few, few 1. It seems to me that we've had _______ assignments in English this term. [many] 2. How _______ material can we be expected to read in one week? [much] 3. _______ books are not in the library. [Many] 4. I've had _______ headaches already because of stress. [many] 5. _______ depression can be attributed to being overworked. [Much] 6. Our yard looks awful this summer. There are too _______ weeds. [many] 7. I didn't use _______ fertilizer last spring, and that has made a difference. [much] 8. Also, I've paid _______ attention to how _______ rain we've had. [little / much] 9. I'm afraid it's rained _______ times this summer, and the grass is turning brown and dying. [few] 10. _______ experts say you should fertilize your lawn in the fall. [Many] 11. It didn't seem to do my lawn _______ good. [much] 12. _______ advice you get from experts doesn't seem to help. [Most] 13. _______ of my neighbors ignore their grass, and they have better lawns this year. [Many] 14. They say _______ knowledge is a bad thing. [a little] 15. I know _______ instances where that proves true. [a few] 16. _______ people know as much about computers as Tomas does. [Few] 17. But it does him _______ good when the whole system goes down. [little]