Quantifiers: Much, Many, Little, Few, Plenty, a Lot, a Bit

Hello English learners. Welcome to a new lesson. We will talk about the difference and use of the quantifiers much, many, little, few, plenty, a lot, a bit.

Much, many, a lot of (lots of)

Both much and many mean a large quantity of something. We use much with uncountable and many with countable nouns. 

  • much icecream, much time, much money, much energy
  • many people, many countries, many species

We normally use much in negative sentences and questions. For positive sentences, we use a lot of (lots of).

  • Sandra couldn’t eat much food.
  • Do they charge much money for the rent?
  • There is a lot of noise in the classroom.

However, we can use too much, so much, as much in positive sentences.

  • The waiter charged me too much money.
  • You’ll get fat if you eat so much pasta.
  • Take as much time as you like.

We can use many in positive, negative and interrogative questions, as well as a lot of (lots of).

  • There are many mountains in the country. ( lots of mountains)
  • Mark didn’t know many words in Italian. ( a lot of words)
  • Are there many students in your class? (a lot of students)

Plenty (of)

Plenty means more than enough. It can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

  • There is no need to hurry. We have plenty of time.
  • There were plenty of people at the party.
  • Why did you buy more milk? We have plenty.

A lot of (lots of)

We use a lot of (lots of) with both countable and uncountable nouns.

  • There was a lot of mud on his trainers.
  • Lots of people decide to buy electric cars nowadays.

Use the form a lot or lots at the end of a sentence or a clause.

  • When her pet dog died, Lucy cried a lot.
  • Have some more food, there is lots left.

(A) little and (a) few

A little refers to a small amount of something and it is used with uncountable nouns.

  • We have a little time, let’s go for a walk.
  • Jay could speak a little Chinese.
  • She seasoned the salad with a little oil.

A few means a small amount of something. It goes with countable nouns.

  • Chris stood there for a few moments.
  • Phoebe put a few clothes into her suitcase.
  • I’m trying to save a few pounds each day.

A bit (of)

We can use a bit in the same way as a little. 

  • I’ve left you a bit of food in the fridge. (a little of food)
  • It’s a bit warmer today (a little warmer)

You will often hear the phrase a little bit, especially in spoken English.

  • A little bit of exercise can do wonders for your health.
  • Can you turn the volume down a little bit?

Few and little

Don’t mistake the quantifiers few and little with a few and a little. While a few and a little refer to small amounts of something, few and little have a negative connotation. They mean not enough.

  • Sara was sad because she had few friends (not enough)
  • There are few eggs and little butter in the fridge. You should buy some. (there are almost no eggs and butter)
  • I’m sorry but I speak very little Spanish. Can we speak in English?

Do the quiz to perfect your knowledge


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