Words Describing Quantity - Orchids The International School
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Describing Words

Concept: Words Describing Quantity

Definition:

  • Words describing quantity are used to explain an adjective or a noun. For instance, ‘small’ or ‘little’, ‘a little’, and ‘a few’ are words that describe quantity.
  • ‘Little’ and ‘few’ can mean negatively. It is used to mean ‘not as much as expected’ or ‘not as much as wanted to’.
  • Some of the common diminutive phrases are:
    1. little / a little
    2. Examples:

      1. I know little French.
      2. Add a little sugar in my cup of tea.
    Boy
  • few / a few
  • Examples:

    1. Few of his pictures have come out well.
    2. There are a few good books in the library.
Boy

Other words used to indicate quality as given below:

Words Indicating Quantity
plenty of a little 
all of  a few
much  none of
little  few
too much  all
too many many
a lot of very little
lots of very few

How to Use Words Describing Quantity in a Sentence?

Word

Meaning 

Examples

Plenty  

More than enough

Plenty of food has been wasted. 

Too many  

The number is high that it is difficult to count. 

It is used with countable nouns. 

This library has too many books. 

Too much

Excessive. 

It is used with uncountable nouns. 

There is too much noise here. 

‘all of’ and ‘all’ can be used interchangeably depending on the sentence. 

The whole of the thing or lot or people. 

All of’ is usually used with a pronoun. 

All of them in the class burst into laughter after hearing the joke. 

A lot of,

lots of

Large amount 
  • There are a lot of cars in the parking area today. 
  • Lots of new shops have come up in this area. 

A little,

little

Small in amount or size.

Use ‘a little’ with mass nouns.

In a negative way, “a small amount of something”, use little.  

  • Could you put a little sugar in the gravy to make it a little sweet? 
  • There’s little water left, don’t waste it. 

A few,

few

To focus on how small a number is.

  • I have a few questions to ask.
  • Few of my friends are settled abroad.  

None,

none of

Not one.
  • None of them was able to answer the question correctly. 
  • John ate all the cookies, so none were left in the jar.

Common Mistakes:

  1. The phrase a little is used with singular uncountable nouns and not with countable nouns.

    Examples:

    She had coffee with a little milk.

    She had little books in the bag.

  2. The phrase ‘a few’ is used with plural countable nouns and not with uncountable nouns. ‘A few’ denotes a positive quantity.

    Examples:

    We stayed a few days in Chennai and visited the temples.

    We stayed a little days in Chennai and visited the temples.

  3. The word ‘Little’ is used with adjectives, adverbs, and uncountable nouns. It is used for a negative quantity.

    Examples:

    1. He apparently is getting a little better. (with adjective)
    2. There is a little shop not far from here. (used as an adjective)
    3. I had little choice since the circumstances were not that favourable.
  4. The word ‘few’ is used with countable plural nouns and in a negative quantity.

    Examples:

    Few people think that I am an arrogant girl.

Exceptions:

1. The phrases ‘a little’ and ‘a few’ can be used as pronouns. It can be used to substitute for a noun.

Examples:

  1. She narrated a little about her life in Kolkata.
  2. Don’t take all the cookies. Just take a few.
Boy

2. Without a noun, ‘little’ and ‘few’ are not very common. They are used in formal situations.

Examples:

  1. Little is known about her background.
  2. Few would be in favour of taking him along.
Boy
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