A quantifier is a word that talks about the number, quantity or amount of something. Examples of English quantifiers include words like each, both, either, neither, few, some, any, much, many, a lot of etc.
The last three, much, many, a lot of/lots of cause some problems. Sometimes I hear sentences like the following:
How much money have you got? It’s okay, I’ve got *much.
Did you have any trouble with customs? Rather *much.
There isn’t much food left is there? There’s *much bread and soup.
He’s got a lot of friends, but he doesn’t know *lots of girls.
We’ve played a lot of matches this season, but we haven’t won *lots.
None of the above sentences are correct. As a general rule we use LOTS/A LOT OF in affirmative phrases, and MUCH (for uncountable nouns like « money ») and MANY (for countable nouns like « girls ») in negative phrases and questions.
Can you correct the above sentences?
In formal writing the rules are a little bit different. We don’t like using LOTS OF in formal writing. A LOT OF is possible, but we prefer to use expressions like the following:
Mr Lucas has spent a great deal of time in the Far East.
The auditors have found a large number of mistakes in the accounts.
In very formal style, you will find phrases that look like mistakes when you take into account the rules about much/many above:
Much research has been carried out in order to establish the causes of cancer. In the opinion of many scientists…
In formal style it is quite acceptable to use much/many in affirmative phrases, not only in negatives and questions.
For more information on quantifiers see the next post on few and little.
For more details I recommend the following resources: