Expressing Quantity

It's over there!
How many are there?. Westend61 / Getty Images


'Much' and 'Many' are used in negative sentences and questions. 'Much' is used with uncountable nouns such as 'rice':

How much money have you got?
There isn't much rice left.

Note: 'Much' is rarely used in the positive form. English speakers generally use 'a lot of' or 'lots of' with  uncountable nouns.

We have a lot of time. NOT We have much time.
There is a lot of wine in the bottle. NOT There is much wine in the bottle. 


'Many' is used for countable nouns such as 'apples':

How many people came to the party?
There aren't many apples on the table.

Note: 'Many' is used in the positive form unlike 'much'. 

Andrew has a lot of friends. OR Andrew has many friends. 
A lot of my friends live in New York. OR Many of my friends live in New York. 

A Lot Of / Lots Of

'A lot of' and 'lots of' can be used with both count and uncountable nouns. 'A lot of' and 'lots of' are used in positive sentences:

There is a lot of water in that jar.
He's got lots of friends in London.

Note: Generally speaking, 'lots of' sounds less formal than 'a lot of'. 

A Little / A Few

'A little' and 'a few' indicate a quantity or number. Use 'a little' with uncountable nouns:

There is a little wine in that bottle. 
There is a little sugar in my coffee.

Use 'a few' with countable nouns.

He has a few friends in New York.
We bought a few sandwiches on our way to the park.

Little / Few

'Little' and 'few' indicate a limited quantity. Use 'little' with uncountable nouns:

I have little money to spend.
She found little time for work.

Use 'few' with countable nouns:

He has few students in his class. 
Jack finds few reasons to stay.


Use 'some' in positive sentences when there is neither a lot nor a little.

'Some' can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

We have some friends who work in Los Angeles. 
I've saved some money to spend on vacation this summer. 

Any - Questions

Use 'any' in questions to ask if someone has something. 'Any' can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns:

Do you have any friends in San Francisco?
Is there any pasta left? ​

Note: When offering or requesting something use 'some' instead of 'any' for polite questions.

Would you like some shrimp? - Offer
Would you lend me some money? - Request


Any - Negative Sentences

'Use' any with countable and uncountable nouns in negative sentences to state that something doesn't exist.

We won't have any time for shopping today.
They didn't have any problems finding our house. 


Use 'enough' with countable and uncountable nouns to state that you are satisfied with the amount of something.

She has enough time to visit her friends in Dallas.
I think we have enough hamburgers for tomorrow's grill. 

Not Enough

Use 'not enough' when you are not satisfied with the amount of something.

I'm afraid there's not enough time to continue this conversation.
There are not enough people working at the moment. 

Each / Every

Use 'each' or 'every' when referring to the individuals in a group.

I think every person in this room would agree with me.
I'm sure each step of this process is important. 


Large / Big / Vast / Huge Amount of

Use these adjectives with 'amount of' with uncountable and countable nouns to express large quantities. This form is often used to exaggerate just how much there is.

There is a huge amount of work to be done to today.
Tom has a vast amount of knowledge about the subject. 

Tiny / Small / Minuscule Amount of 

Use these similar adjectives with 'amount of' to express very small quantities. This form is often used in exaggeration to express how little there is of something. 

Peter has a small amount of patiences, so don't joke around with him.
There is a minuscule amount of time left to register. Hurry up!


Test your knowledge with this 20 question quiz on expressing quantity.

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Your Citation
Beare, Kenneth. "Expressing Quantity." ThoughtCo, Apr. 19, 2016, Beare, Kenneth. (2016, April 19). Expressing Quantity. Retrieved from Beare, Kenneth. "Expressing Quantity." ThoughtCo. (accessed January 18, 2018).