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 English Grammar for ESL learners 


Words to express quantity in English.

Some, any, a little, a few are used to express quantity, to say or ask if you have a quantity of something or not.
  • Some is used in affirmative sentences, and also when asking for or offering something.

  • Any is used in negative and interrogative sentences.

  • A few is used with countable nouns: a few apples (a small number of apples).

  • A little is used with uncountable nouns: a little cheese (a small quantity of cheese).

Here are some examples :

Affirmative Negative Interrogative
There are some apples in the bowl.
(We don't know how many, but the bowl is not empty.)
There aren't any apples.
(The bowl is empty.)
Are there any apples?
(We want to know if the bowl contains apples.)
There are a few apples (not many, a small number). There aren't many apples. Are there many apples?
(is there a large number of apples?)
There is a little cheese (not much, a small quantity). There isn't much cheese. Is there much cheese?
(is there a large quantity of cheese?)
N.B.: Asking and offering: Can I have / would you like some coffee?

See also :  a lot-much-many

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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