Grammar: Quantifier

Posted January 11, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Grammar Explanations, Self-Editing, Writing

Quantifier is a fancy way to say “count”. Now, whether it’s an exact count (a definite quantifier) or a general idea of lots, few, or some (an indefinite quantifier) depends upon the context or the idea you want to provide your reader.

Grammar Explanations is…

…an evolving list of the structural rules and principles that determines where words are placed in phrases or sentences as well as how the language is spoken. Sometimes I run across an example that helps explain better or another “also known as”. Heck, there’s always a better way to explain it, so if it makes quicker and/or better sense, I would appreciate suggestions and comments from anyone on an area of grammar with which you struggle or on which you can contribute more understanding.

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Definition: A word, number, or phrase that usually precedes a noun and tells how much or how many there is of something.

See “Nouns” for details on countable and uncountable nouns.

List of Indefinite Quantifiers
Use with Countable & Uncountable Nouns Use Only with Countable Nouns Use Only with Uncountable Nouns Often Used with Abstract Nouns
a load of
a lot of
heaps of
loads of
lots of
none of
plenty of
tons of …
a couple of
a large number of
(a) few
hundreds of
thousands of …
one, two, three…
1, 2, 3…
a bit of
a little
(not) much
a good deal of
a great deal of
a large amount of
Example Sentences

  1. Blue indicates the quantifier

Mark ate three huge desserts

It was just a bit of fun.

We’ve spent a good deal of time on this.

There are many trees in a forest.

Noun Goes After Quantifier Rule: When speaking of members of a group in general, put a noun after the quantifier.

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  1. Blue indicates the quantifier
  2. Orange indicates the noun

Few tulips emerged.

Both the tulips and roses were beautiful this year.

Is it possible to have enough flowers?

Specific Group Rule: When speaking of a specific group of people or things, use of the.

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  1. Blue indicates the of the

Few of the tulips are still alive.

All of the rosebushes bloomed this summer.

Is it possible to have all of the flowers you want?

Two People or Things Rule: When speaking of two people or things, use both, either *, or neither *.

* Only use with a singular verb.

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  1. Blue indicates the quantifier
  2. Orange indicates the singular verb

Both kids were grounded.

You can have either ice cream or chocolate.

I’m sorry, but neither Mary nor George can come play.

Each, Every means All Rule: Use each or every with a singular noun to mean all.

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Each / Every All
Each horse has their own stall.

He hauled down a bale of hay and fed each of the horses.

Every gift box was festooned with ribbons.

It felt as though every muscle in her body was sore.

All of the horses have their own stalls.

He hauled down a bale of hay and fed all of the horses.

All of the gift boxes are festooned with ribbons.

It felt as though all of the muscles in her body were sore.


  1. Green indicates the singular word
  2. Blue indicates the quantifier
  3. Orange indicates the plural word
Using Number Rule: The word, number, can be:

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Singular – the number Plural – a number
The number of people voting for Bush was astonishing. A number of us have volunteered to get off the bus.


  1. Green indicates the singular/plural indicator
  2. Blue indicates the verb

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