many/much, more, most
few, fewer, fewest
little, less, least

All¬† quantifiers¬†are¬† determiners ¬†that express quantity, sometimes exact. But with¬†graded¬†quantifiers we can express¬†approximate¬†quantity on a¬†relative¬† scale (rising ‚ěö and falling ‚ěė). (This idea is similar to¬†adjectives ¬†such as¬†big, bigger, biggest¬†or¬† small, smaller, smallest.) Also note, in the following table, that four of these quantifiers are used with¬†countable nouns¬†(C), four with¬†uncountable nouns¬†(U) and two with both.

quantifiercomparativesuperlative
increasing¬† ‚ěö
Cmanymoremost
Umuch
decreasing¬† ‚ěė
Cfewfewerfewest
Ulittlelessleast

many/much

The quantifiers many and much mean "a large quantity of". We use many  with  countable nouns  and much  with  uncountable nouns:

  • Were there¬†many¬†people ¬†at the party? Was it busy?
  • We don't have¬†much¬†time ¬†left so let's go soon.
Note that we tend to use many/much  in negative and question sentences. For positive sentences, especially in informal English, we prefer a lot of, or (very informal) lots of.
  CU
+I've gota lot of eggsa lot of rice
-I haven't gotmany eggsmuch rice
?Have you gotmany eggs?much rice?

more, most

Many/much (and few/little ) are unusual determiners because they have comparative   and  superlative forms. The comparative form of many/much is more; and the superlative form of many/much is most. We can use more and most  with countable and uncountable nouns.

Look at these example sentences:

  • Many people use the Internet and¬†more¬†people ¬†join every year.
  • Last year there was a lot of crime, but there is even¬†more¬†crime ¬†this year.
  • Whoever has¬†most¬†points ¬†is the winner.
  • Since you have¬†the most¬†money, ¬†why don't you pay?

few/little

The quantifiers few and little mean "a small quantity of". We use few  with countable nouns and little  with uncountable nouns:

  • There were¬†few¬†people ¬†in the shop so it didn't take long.
  • There is¬†little¬†chance ¬†that he will come now so let's go home.

few/little versus  a few/a little

Notice that few and little  have a "negative" sense:

  • He had¬†few¬†friends . (So he was quite lonely.)
  • We have¬†little ¬†time left. (Just a couple of minutes. Let's go!)

Adding the indefinite article a changes the emphasis to more "positive":

  • He had¬†a few¬†friends . (So he wasn't too lonely.)
  • We have¬†a little¬†time . (A bit of time. Let's grab a snack.)

fewer/fewest, less/least

The comparative form of few is fewer; and the superlative form of few is fewest. We use them with countable nouns:

  • There were¬†few visitors¬†last week but there are even¬†fewer¬†visitors ¬†this week.
  • If Tara has¬†the fewest¬†jobs to do, she can help the others.

The comparative form of little is less; and the superlative form of little is least. We use them with uncountable nouns:

  • The run took¬†little time¬†last week and even¬†less¬†time ¬†this week.
  • Eric has¬†the least¬†work to do¬†so he can help you.
Although less  is correctly used with uncountable nouns only, many native speakers now also use it with countable nouns, especially in informal English:
  • Less people¬†came this time.
Don’t confuse the determiner/quantifier little  with the adjective little  (meaning "small"), which can be used with countable nouns:
determinerThere is little time left.
adjectiveI have a little dog.

Example Sentences

Look at some more example sentences showing graded quantifiers in context:

  • Many people agreed with me.
  • Are there many cars outside?
  • I don't have many books.
  • She used too much makeup.*
  • They can't deliver today. There is too much snow.*
  • I don‚Äôt have much work to do.
  • More people will come if you advertise.
  • There is more money in my account than I expected.
  • Most winters are warmer than this.
  • Jackie got the most points.
  • Few people can lift their own bodyweight‚ÄĒperhaps less than five per cent.
  • There are fewer old cars on the roads these days; more and more people prefer to buy new.
  • This year we've had the fewest hurricanes on record.
  • There's little doubt that the climate is getting warmer.
  • Is it true that a policeman earns less money than a politician?
  • It's not fair! I did the most work and I got the least money.

*Note that you can add too before many or much  to indicate an excess amount.

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