Much, many, little, few, some, any: grammar chart
many for countable, much for uncountable in (?) (-)
We use many before plural (countable) nouns and much before uncountable nouns. We use them in negative sentences and questions. We don’t normally use them in affirmative sentences.
- There isn’t much coffee in the jar.
- Were there many people in the party?
too much/too many
Note that we don’t normally use much/many in affirmative sentences, but we can use too much and too many in affirmative sentences.
- There’s too much salt in the soup.
- You eat too many biscuits.
how much/how many
We use how many and how much to ask about quantity.
- How many concerts have you ever been to?
- How much coffee have you had today?
a lot of/lots of
Before both countable and uncountable
We use a lot of or lots of (more informal) before both plural (countable) and uncountable nouns. We normally use them in positive sentences.
- She spends a lot of time watching TV.
- We had lots of good moments together.
of before noun; no
of at the end of sentence
We must always use a lot of or lots of including of before a noun. However, we can use the expressions a lot or lots (without of) at the end of a sentence.
- ‘How many beers did you have?’ ‘I don’t know; I had lots/a lot.’
- I like her a lot.
(a) few/(a) little/a bit of
few for countable; little for uncountable
We use (a) few before plural (countable) nouns and (a) little or a bit of (more informal) before uncountable nouns.
- I have to do a few things this afternoon.
- He always gets good results with very little effort.
- Can you put a bit of sugar in the tea?
few or a few? little or a little?
A few means ‘some but not many; enough’, and a little means ‘some but not much; enough’ .
Few/little mean ‘almost none; not enough’.
Normally, the difference between a few/little (WITH a) and few/little (WITHOUT a) is that a few/little is positive in meaning, and few/little is negative. Compare:
- There’s little milk in the fridge; we have to buy more. (Not enough; we need more)
- ‘Shall I buy some beers?’ ‘No, it’s OK, there are a few in the fridge.’ (=Enough; we don’t need more)
- ‘Do you speak English?’ ‘No, I speak very little English.’ (=Negative)
- ‘Do you speak English?’ ‘Yes, I speak a little English.’ (=Positive)
some for (+); any for (?) (-)
We use some in affirmative sentences and any in negative sentences and questions.
- Is there any sugar in the cupboard?
- Have you got any new friends?
- I have some questions to ask you.
With both countable (plural) and uncountable
Both some and any can be used before countable and uncountable nouns. But if we use them before a countable noun, the noun must be in the plural form.
- Are there any students in the classroom? (NOT
Is there any student in the classroom?)
some for offers and requests
We use some (NOT any) in interrogative sentences when we are offering or requesting (=asking for) something.
- Would you like some help?
- Can I have some tea, please?