much, many, little, few, some, any, no – table
many for countable, much for uncountable in (?) and (-)
We use many before plural (countable) nouns and much before uncountable nouns. We use them in negative sentences and questions. We don’t often use them in affirmative sentences.
- There isn’t much coffee in the jar.
- Were there many people in the party?
too much/too many, so much/so many
Note that we don’t normally use much/many in affirmative sentences, but we can use too much and too many or so much and so many in affirmative sentences.
- There’s too much salt in the soup.
- You eat too many biscuits.
- There were so many people that we had to leave.
- He ate so much cake that it made him sick.
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/plenty of
Before both countable and uncountable
We use a lot of, lots of (more informal), or plenty of 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.
- We’ve got plenty of time.
of before noun; no
of at the end of sentence
We must always use a lot of or lots of including of at the end. 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.
- I don’t want any more cake, thanks. I’ve had plenty.
(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 in affirmative, negative and interrogative sentences.
- 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 means ‘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 in (+) and any in (?) and (-)
We use some in affirmative sentences and any in negative sentences and questions.
- There isn’t any sugar in the cupboard.
- Have you got any new friends?
- I have some questions to ask you.
no in (+)
We use no in affirmative sentences.
- There are no biscuits left.
- I have no questions to ask.
With both countable (plural) and uncountable
Some, any and no can be used before countable and uncountable nouns. But if we use them before a countable noun, the noun must be plural.
- Are there any students in the classroom? (NOT
Is there any student in the classroom?)
- There are no students 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?
None is a pronoun. It means ‘zero’. We use it in affirmative sentences as a pronoun to replace countable and uncountable nouns. This means that it’s not followed by a noun.
- There were three bottles before we left and now there is none.
- ‘How much cake did you have?’ ‘None.’
We can also use none of + noun (countable or uncountable).
- None of the questions were answered.