Quantifiers in English

Quantifier words are used for quantities that are approximative and inexact; the most common are: much and many, (a) little, (a) few, a lot, lots of, most, some, any, no/none, enough.

much and many, (a) little, (a) few, a lot

Corresponding to the Italian "molto / poco", we use:
  • a few, few, many, a lot of with countable nouns
  • a little, little, much, a lot of with uncountable nouns
  • a lot of with both countable and uncountable nouns
  • much and many are used with the negative and interrogative forms
  • a lot of / lots of is used in the affirmative form
    • I have a little money.
    • I have many friends.
    • Are there many people in that room? No, there are very few people.
    • Would you like a few postcards?
    • He hasn't many opportunities.
    • She doesn't spend much time with her children.
    • There is a lot of information about Italy in this travel brochure.
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Some, any, not any, no, none

SOME and ANY are used with both countable and uncountable nouns to indicate a part or quantity of a substance or object.
  • SOME is usually used in an affirmative sentence, but can also be used in interrogative or hypothetical sentences if the existence of the substance is not in question, as when we offer drinks or food.
    • I will have some news next week.
    • She has some valuable books in her house.
    • There is some butter in the fridge.
    • Would you like some more tea?
    • Would you like some help?

  • ANY is generally used in negative or interrogative sentences. Instead of "not any" the adjective "no" can be used, and the form "none" as a pronoun.
    • She doesn't want any presents for Christmas.
    • No, thank you. I don't want any more cake.
    • Do you have any friends in London?
    • Are there any problems with your work?
    • Are there any pies left? No, there aren't any left / there are none left

Compound with SOME, ANY and NO

All compound words of some - any - no follow the same rules as when they are used alone. Words formed with NO (nothing, nobody, nowhere) are used sentences to give a strong negative sense to the sentence.

Italian affirmative interrogative negative
qualcuno somebody anybody not ... anybody nobody
qualcuno someone anyone not ... anyone no one
qualcosa something anything not ... anything nothing
in qualche luogo somewhere anywhere not ... anywhere nowhere
  • I have something to tell you.
  • Susie has somebody staying with her.
  • I don't know anybody. = I know nobody.
  • She doesn't want anything. = She wants nothing.
  • They want to go somewhere hot for their holidays
  • Is there anybody who speaks English here?
  • Is there anything to eat?
  • He doesn't have anywhere to stay tonight.
  • There is nobody in the house at the moment.
  • I have learnt nothing since I began the course.
  • There is nowhere as beautiful as Paris in the spring.

ANY with the Affirmative

Any and its compound words are used in the affirmative to mean a possible CHOICE from a range of possibilities. In this case it corresponds to the Italian "qualsiasi, qualunque".

italian qualunque (adj) chiunque (pron.) qualunque cosa comunque
english any anybody
anything anywhere
  • You can borrow any of my books.
  • They can choose anything from the menu.
  • You may invite anybody to dinner, I don't mind.
  • I wish I were anywhere else, but not here.


They function like comparatives and hold a relative position on a scale of increase or decrease.
  • with plural countable nouns: many, more, most
  • with uncountable nouns: much, more, most


  • With plural countable nouns: few, fewer, fewest
  • With uncountable nouns: little, less, least
  • There are many people in England, more in India, but the most people live in China.
  • Few rivers in Europe are not polluted.
  • Fewer children die today than in the seventeenth century.
  • The country with the fewest people per square kilometre must be Australia.
  • She had less time to study than Paul but had better results.
  • Give that dog the least opportunity and it will bite you.
  • Scientists have little hope of finding a complete cure for cancer before the year 2,030.

A little /little, A few / few

A few and a little have a different meaning than few and little, since "a few", "a little" have a positive meaning, whereas "few" and "little" have a negative meaning.
  • I have a few friends. (is the same as saying) --> I have SOME friends.
  • I have few friends. (is the same as saying) --> I do not have MANY friends.
  • I have a little money. --> I have SOME money.
  • I have little money. --> I do not have MUCH money.


Enough goes before a noun; but when it is used with adjectives and adverbs it goes after them.
  • There is enough bread for lunch.
  • She has enough money.
  • We didn't have enough time to see London Bridge.
  • Are there enough eggs to make an omelette?
  • Richard is talented enough to become a singing star.

Other quantifiers

  • Half = 50%, used with countable and uncountable nouns.
  • Double = the quantity + 100% of that quantity, used with uncountable nouns
  • Both = the two, not only the one (this one AND that one) - it is used with nouns that are plural and countable
  • All = 100%, whole amount, used with countable and uncountable nouns.
    • You can have half of the cake.
    • There is a double quantity of rice for the hurricane victims.
    • Both children were born in Italy.
    • All men are born equal.