Quantifiers

Today we are going to learn about “Quantifiers” like “Many, Much, Few and Little”. We call them quantifiers because they are added before “Nouns” to get indications of the quantity of that noun, is it to be a quantity a certain amount or a small amount.

In English, for a large quantity sometimes we have to use Much, sometimes we have to use Many. For a small quantity, sometimes we use Little or sometimes Few. There are also A Few and A Little.

Here are the clarifications of the usage of Many, Much, Little and Few.

Much, Little and A Little

Much, Little and A Little ———-> These are used before uncountable nouns. An uncountable noun is a noun you cannot add a number to. For example you can say : “1 book”, “2 books”, etc ——– but you cannot say : “1 rice”, “2 rices”, etc. So “rice” is uncountable noun. Therefore, you have to say “Much rice” not “Many rice”.

The opposite of ‘much’ is ‘little’.

‘Much’ = a large quantity of uncountable noun >< ‘Little’ = small quantity of uncountable noun.

‘A Little’ = is between the two; not much and not little. So ‘A Little’ is a certain quantity of uncountable noun

Examples:

  • Do you eat much rice?
  • No, I don’t eat much rice, I eat (very) little rice
  • I ate a little rice last night.

Many, Few and A Few

These are used before countable nouns. A countable noun is a noun you can add a number to. For example : ‘1 book’, ‘2 books’ , etc.

Becareful that not all the countable nouns take the plural ‘s’ when you count more than one of them. Irregular plurals are also ‘countable nouns’.

1 person —–> 2 people                                                1 child —–> 10 children

Therefore, we say : many books, many people, many children

The opposite of ‘many’ is ‘few’.

‘Many’ = a large number of countable nouns >< ‘Few’ = a small number of countable nouns.

‘A Few’ = is between the two ; not ‘many’ and not ‘few’ .

‘A Few’ = a certain number.

Examples :

  • Do you know many people here?
  • No, I don’t know many people. I know (very) few people here
  • I knew a few people in the town where I lived before.

There are some important point here we have to know, as the phonetic difference between ‘few’ and ‘a few’ and also ‘little’ and ‘a little’ is very slight , in order to make it clear to the listener which one we are saying, we often add the word ‘very’ to ‘little’ and ‘few’.

Examples :

  • I usually eat very little rice, but I ate a little rice last night.
  • I know very few people here, but I knew a few people where I lived before.

Some words that you may expect to be countable, are uncountable in English. Some of these are:

Information, Knowledge, Advice, Evidence, Research, News, Progress, Work, Money, Traffic, Equipment, Acomodation, Furniture, Luggage, Software, Hardware.

If you want to make uncountable noun countable, you should use an appropriate unit of measurement:

Much milk ———> Many glasses of milk

Much equipment ———-> Many pieces of equipment

Much bread ———–> Many slices of bread

A Lot of and Some

If you don’t want to worry about wheter a noun is countable or uncountable, you can use expressions that work both groups.

There are : ‘A Lot of’ (lots of = unformal) and ‘Some’

‘A Lot of’ can replace ‘Much’ and ‘Many’ for example : “I know a lot of people”

‘Some’ can replace ‘a little’ or ‘few’ for example : “I ate some rice last night”.

* Point 1, In terms of usage, ‘a lot of’ (lots of) is more common than ‘much’ and ‘many’ in positive sentences.

Therefore, it is more common to hear :

‘I eat a lot of rice’   than   ‘I eat much rice’

‘I know a lot of people’   than   ‘I know many people’

But in negative sentences and questions, you can use both.

* Point 2, After words like: ‘too’, ‘so’, ‘as’, and ‘very’, we always use ‘much’ and ‘many’, not ‘a lot of’. For examples:

so much information

too many questions

as much money

very many ways

Comparative

Much —————> More

I don’t eat much rice. I eat more bread than rice.

Many —————> More

I don’t know many people here. I used to know more people where I lived before.

Little —————-> Less

I eat very little rice. I eat even less bread.

Few —————–> Fewer

I knew very few people where I lived before. I know even fewer people here.

Source : Learn English With Anglo Link