Noun Quantifiers in English: Giving an Amount to an English Noun
Noun quantifiers give us a quantity. They tell us how much of something there is. Most of the time, noun quantifiers are not specific numbers. Instead, most quantifiers give us a general idea of how much or how may of something there is. In this posting I talk about noun quantifiers, both formal and informal, for count and non-count nouns. There will be many example sentences. The download at the end will give you additional practice using noun quantifiers.
Noun quantifiers are sometimes definite. This means that they are a specific number (two cars). Most noun quantifiers, however, are not a specific number. Rather, they are a word or words that give us a general idea (several houses, a lot of coffee).
Noun quantifiers to use with count nouns
A count noun is a noun that we can easily count. It may be singular or plural. Here are some examples of count nouns: car, pencils, people, child, bottle, sisters, dogs, students, dishes, etc. Below are some noun quantifiers to be used with count nouns followed by example sentences.
- both (means 2 out of 2)–Both algebra classes were full, so I had to choose another math class.
- each (means every or all)–Each child was in school.
- either (means 1 out of 2)–You can buy either shirt. They’re both nice.
- neither (a negative word meaning 2 out of 2. If often goes with nor.)–Neither Mary nor Bob came to work today.
- (a) few (means a small number)–I have a few bottles of Coke left from the party.
- many (means a large number)–There were many dogs without leashes in the park this afternoon.
- several (means 3 or 4)–I have several extra pens. Would you like to borrow one?
Informal noun quantifiers for count nouns
The noun quantifiers below are appropriate for conversation and informal writing (e-mails, texts, social media). The are used less often in formal writing.
- a couple of (usually means 2)–Do you have a couple of dollars I could borrow?
- hundreds of, thousands of, millions of (All of these mean a very large number. They are not to be taken literally and can be used interchangeably, whatever the large number is.)–I have millions of e-mails to answer before I go to my meeting.
Noun quantifiers to use with non-count nouns
A non-count noun is a noun that you cannot easily count, such as water, sugar, rice, time, etc. Here are some noun quantifiers to use with these nouns, along with some example sentences.
- a little (means a small number)–I only have a little free time today.
- much (means a larger number)–How much information do you have about this job listing?
Informal noun quantifiers for non-count nouns
- a bit of (means a small amount)–We had a bit of bad weather on our vacation.
- a good deal of, a great deal of (means a large amount)–I think he has a good deal of money.
Noun quantifiers to use with both count and non-count nouns
Use these noun quantifiers with any noun, count or non-count. Each noun quantifier will be followed by two sentences–one with a count noun and the other with a non-count noun.
- all—All the guests had a good time. I have all the information I need to complete this project.
- more—More people came to the party than I invited! May I have some more water, please?
- any—This word is used in a negative sentence or in a question. She doesn’t have any pets. Do you have any coffee?
- enough (means the amount we need)–We have enough books right now. We don’t have enough tea.
- less–People in some states pay less taxes than in others. There is less traffic on the streets on Sunday.
- none of—None of the students passed the test. None of the information he gave me is correct.
- a lot of, lots of–I have been to a lot of foreign countries. They have lots of food in their refrigerator.
- some–I just bought some apples. Would you like one? Would you like some sugar in your coffee?
- most–Most people like to be helpful. Most journalism in the tabloids is not true.
Informal noun quantifiers for both count and non-count nouns
- plenty of, heaps of, loads of, tons of—These all mean a very amount. We can use them interchangeably. He has plenty of shoes. She gave me tons of advice, and it was all bad!
- a ton of, a bunch of, a load of, a boatload of—These also all mean a large amount and can be used interchangeably. There were a bunch of dogs barking outside. I have a boatload of homework tonight!
The noun quantifiers no and none
No and none both mean zero. We use them for both count and non-count nouns.
- There was no beer in the refrigerator. Note that this sentence is in the affirmative. We never say, “There wasn’t no beer in the refrigerator. You may have heard some native English speakers making this mistake, but now you know better. I have no dresses I can wear to the interview. Again, this is in the affirmative.
- None is used to answer a question when the answer is zero. How many Spanish books do you have? None. How much time do you have to go shopping tomorrow. None. I don’t have any extra time.
You now know that noun quantifiers tell us how much or how many of a noun there is. A definite noun quantifier is a specific number (3, 500, etc.) Most noun quantifiers, however, are indefinite and only give us a general idea of the amount ( a lot, several, etc.). Some noun quantifiers are used with count nouns and some with non-count nouns. We can use others with both types of nouns. The download will give you additional practice using noun quantifiers correctly.
Idiom of the day
- in the cards–This means that something is likely or almost certain to happen. It can also mean that it is one’s fate or destiny. I was hoping to get that job, but I guess it just wasn’t in the cards for me.
- to bone up on–This means to study or review. We have a test tomorrow. I’d better bone up on the material we learned.