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English Grammar


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.
    • I brought you some magazines to read.
    • Would you like some milk in your coffee?
    • Will you have some cake?
  • Any is used in negative and interrogative sentences.
    • There aren't any trees in the garden.
    • Is there any hope of finding survivors?
    • Do you have any idea what the time is?
  • A few is used with countable nouns:
    • There are a few interesting articles in today's newspaper.
    • There were a few people waiting for the bus.
  • A little is used with uncountable nouns:.
    • I'd like a little cream on my strawberries please.
    • He isn't rich but he has a little money.

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 few-little

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