Quantity numbers


Quantity numbers
Quantities and amounts of things are often referred to using numbers. See entries at ↑ Numbers and fractions and ↑ Measurements.
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general determiners
You can use general determiners such as `some', `any', `all', `every', and `much' to talk about quantities and amounts of things.

There is some chocolate cake over there.

He spoke many different languages.

Most farmers are still using the old methods.

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with singular nouns
The following general determiners can only be used in front of singular count nouns:
a, an, another, each, either, every, neither

Could I have another cup of coffee?

I agree with every word Peter says.

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with plural and uncount nouns
The following general determiners are used with plural forms of nouns and with uncount nouns:
all, enough, more, most

He does more hours than I do.

It had enough room to store all the information.

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with plural count nouns
The following general determiners are only used with plural forms of nouns:
a few, few, fewer, fewest, many, other, several

The town has few monuments.

He wrote many novels.

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with uncount nouns
`Much', `little', and `a little' are only used with uncount nouns.

Do you watch much television?

We've made little progress.

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There are restrictions on using `much' in positive statements. See entry at ↑ much.
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Some people think that `less' and `least' should only be used with uncount nouns, not with plural forms of nouns. See entry at ↑ less.
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with all types of noun
`Any', `no', and `some' are used with all types of noun.

Cars can be rented at almost any US airport.

He had no money.

They've had some experience of fighting.

This has caused some problems for foresters.

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Note that `any' is not generally used in positive statements. See entry at ↑ any.
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words used in front of determiners
A few words used to indicate amounts or quantities can come in front of specific determiners such as `the', `these', and `my'.
all, both, double, half, twice

All the boys started to giggle.

I invited both the boys.

She paid double the sum they asked for.

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`Half' can also come in front of `a' or `an'.

I read for half an hour.

See entries at ↑ all, ↑ both, and half - half of.
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quantifiers
Quantities and amounts are also referred to using a word or phrase such as `several', `most', or `a number' linked with `of' to the following noun group. These words and phrases followed by `of' are called quantifiers.

I am sure both of you agree with me.

I make a lot of mistakes.

In Tunis there are a number of art galleries.

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When you use a quantifier as the subject of a verb, you use a singular verb form if the noun group after `of' is singular or uncountable, and a plural verb form if the noun group after `of' is plural.

Some of the information has already been analysed.

Some of my best friends are policemen.

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with specific or general noun groups
Quantifiers are often used to refer to part of a particular amount, group, or thing. The noun group after `of' begins with a specific determiner such as `the', `these', or `my', or consists of a pronoun such as `us', `them', or `these'.

Nearly all of the increase has been caused by inflation.

Very few of my classes were stimulating.

Several of them died.

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Sometimes quantifiers are used to refer to part of something of a particular kind. The noun group after `of' is a singular count noun preceded by a general determiner such as `a', `an', or `another'.

It had taken him the whole of an evening to get her to admit that she still had a grievance.

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Often quantifiers are used simply to indicate how many or how much of a type of thing you are talking about. In this case, the noun group after `of' is a general plural or uncountable noun group, without a determiner.

I would like to ask you a couple of questions.

There's a great deal of money involved.

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with specific uncount nouns
The following quantifiers are used with specific uncount noun groups, but not general ones:
all of, any of, enough of, less of, little of, more of, most of, much of, none of, part of, some of, a little of, the remainder of, the rest of, the whole of

Most of my hair had to be cut off.

Ken and Tony did much of the work.

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with specific plural noun groups
The following quantifiers are used with specific plural noun groups, but not general ones:
all of, another of, any of, both of, certain of, each of, either of, enough of, few of, fewer of, many of, more of, most of, neither of, none of, one of, several of, some of, various of, a few of, a little of, a good many of, a great many of, the remainder of, the rest of

Start by looking through their papers for either of the two documents.

Few of these organizations survive for long.

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with all singular noun groups
The following quantifiers are used with specific and general singular noun groups:
all of, any of, enough of, less of, little of, lots of, more of, most of, much of, none of, part of, plenty of, some of, traces of, an abundance of, an amount of, a bit of, a good deal of, a great deal of, a little bit of, a little of, a lot of, a quantity of, a trace of, the majority of, the remainder of, the rest of, the whole of

Part of the farm lay close to the river bank.

Much of the day was taken up with classes.

Meetings are quarterly and take up most of a day.

Would you know what to do if someone accidentally swallowed some of a chemical you work with?

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with all uncount noun groups
The following quantifiers are used with specific and general uncount noun groups:
heaps of, loads of, lots of, masses of, plenty of, quantities of, tons of, traces of, an abundance of, an amount of, a bit of, a little bit of, a good deal of, a great deal of, a lot of, the majority of, a quantity of, a trace of

These creatures spend a great deal of their time on the ground.

A lot of the energy that is wasted in negotiations could be directed into industry.

There had been plenty of action that day.

There was a good deal of smoke.

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with all plural noun groups
The following quantifiers are used with specific and general plural noun groups:
heaps of, loads of, lots of, masses of, numbers of, plenty of, quantities of, tons of, an abundance of, a couple of, a lot of, a majority of, a minority of, the majority of, a number of, a quantity of

I picked up a couple of the pamphlets.

A lot of them were middle-aged ladies.

They had loads of things to say to each other.

Very large quantities of aid were needed.

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Note that `numbers of' and `quantities of' are very often preceded by adjectives such as `large' and `small'.

The report contained large numbers of inaccuracies.

Chemical batteries are used to store relatively small quantities of electricity.

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`Heaps of', `loads of', `lots of', `masses of', and `tons of' are used only in conversation. Note that when these quantifiers are used with an uncount noun or a singular noun group as the subject of a verb, the verb is singular, even though the quantifier sounds plural.

Masses of evidence has been accumulated.

Lots of it isn't relevant, of course.

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pronoun use
Most of the words and expressions listed so far in this entry can be used as pronouns when it is clear who or what you are referring to.

Many are themselves shareholders in companies.

A few crossed over the bridge.

I have four bins. I keep one in the kitchen and the rest in the dustbin area.

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However, `a', `an', `every', `no', and `other' are not used as pronouns.
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Fractions such as `a fifth' and `two-thirds' can be used with `of' in the same way as quantifiers such as `all of' and `some of'. See entry at ↑ Numbers and fractions.
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quantifiers used with abstract nouns
The following quantifiers are used only or mainly when referring to qualities or emotions:
an element of, a hint of, a measure of, a modicum of, a touch of

There was an element of danger in using the two runways together.

Women have gained a measure of independence.

I must admit to a tiny touch of envy when I heard about his success.

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`A trace of' is also often used when referring to an emotion.

She spoke without a trace of embarrassment about the problems that she had had.

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partitives
You can refer to a particular quantity of something using a partitive such as `piece' or `group' linked by `of' to a noun. Partitives are all count nouns. Often a partitive indicates the shape or nature of the amount or group.
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Some partitives are used with `of' and an uncount noun.

Who owns this bit of land?

...portions of mashed potato.

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Some are used with `of' and a plural noun.

...a huge heap of stones.

It was evaluated by an independent team of inspectors.

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For more information about partitives used with uncount nouns, see entry at ↑ Pieces and amounts. For more information about partitives used with plural nouns, see entry at ↑ Groups of things, animals, and people.
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When you use a singular partitive as the subject, you use a singular verb form if the noun after `of' is an uncount noun.

A piece of paper is lifeless.

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If the noun after `of' is a plural count noun, you can use a plural verb form or a singular verb form. A plural verb form is more commonly used.

The second group of animals were brought up in a stimulating environment.

Each small group of workers is responsible for their own production targets.

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When you use a plural partitive, you use a plural verb form.

Two pieces of metal were being rubbed together.

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measurement nouns
Nouns referring to units of measurement are often used as partitives.

He owns only five hundred square metres of land.

I drink a pint of milk a day.

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See section on measurement nouns before `of' in entry at ↑ Measurements.
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You can use the names of containers as partitives when you want to refer to the contents of a container, or to a container and its contents.

They drank another bottle of champagne.

I went to buy a bag of chips.

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'-ful'
You can add `-ful' to partitives referring to containers.

He brought me a bagful of sweets.

Pour a bucketful of cold water on the ash.

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When people want to make a noun ending in `-ful' plural, they usually add an `-s' to the end of the word, as in `bucketfuls'. However, some people put the `-s' in front of `-ful', as in `bucketsful'.

She ladled three spoonfuls of sugar into my tea.

...two teaspoonsful of milk.

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You can also add `-ful' to some parts of the body to form partitives. The commonest partitives of this kind are `armful', `fistful', `handful', and `mouthful'.

Eleanor was holding an armful of roses.

He took another mouthful of whisky.

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mass nouns
Instead of using a partitive and `of', you can sometimes use a noun that is usually uncountable as a count noun. For example, `two teas' means the same as `two cups of tea', and `two sugars' means `two spoonfuls of sugar'.

We drank a couple of beers.

I asked for two coffees with milk.

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See section on mass nouns in entry at ↑ Nouns.
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Useful english dictionary. 2012.

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