Topic 13 – Expression of quantity

Topic 13 – Expression of quantity





1.1. Aims of the unit.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.


2.1. Linguistic levels involved in the notion of quantity.

2.2. On defining quantity: what and how.

2.3. Grammar categories: open vs. closed classes.



4.1. In nouns.

4.1.1. Singular vs. plural.

4.1.2. Count vs. noncount.

4.2. In numerals.

4.3. In pronouns.

4.3.1. Specific pronouns. Central pronouns. Relative pronouns. Interrogative pronouns. Demonstrative pronouns.

4.3.2. Indefinite pronouns. Universal pronouns. Partitive pronouns. Quantifying pronouns.


5.1. Predeterminers.

5.2. Central determiners.

5.3. Postdeterminers.


6.1. Of-partitives.

6.2. Quantity partition.

6.3. Quality partition.







1.1. Aims of the unit.

Unit 13, untitled The Expression of Quantity , is primarily intended to serve as an introduction to the different ways of expressing quantity in English. In doing so, the study will be divided into six main chapters. Thus, Chapter 2 provides a theoretical framework for the notion of quantity within a grammar linguistic theory, in which some key terminology is defined in syntactic terms so as to prepare the reader for the descriptive account on quantity expressions in subsequent chapters.

Chapter 3, then, is mainly introductory so as to present the notion of quantity regarding number, determiners, partitive constructions, and other means. The aim is to establish an introductory link to next section. Chapter 4, then, offers a descriptive account of the different ways of expressing amount by means of number (1) in nouns (singular vs. plural and countable vs. uncountable nouns), (2) numberals (cardinal, ordinal), and (3) pronouns, where a survey on specific and indefinite pronouns is provided in order to link it to next section, that is Chapter 5, on determiners. Once determiners are examined, Chapter 6 accounts for specific quantitative partitive constructions and Chapter 7 deals with other means of expressing quantity.

Chapter 8 provides an educational framework for the expression of quantity within our current school curriculum, and Chapter 9 draws a conclusion from all the points involved in this study. Finally, in Chapter 10 , bibliography will be listed in alphabetical order. A final section, Chapter 11, includes appendix notes on the discussion.

1.2. Notes on bibliography.

In order to offer an insightful analysis and survey on the expression of quantity in English, we shall deal with the most relevant works in the field, both old and current, and in particular, influential grammar books which have assisted for years students of English as a foreign language in their study of grammar. For instance, a theoretical framework for the expression of quantity is namely drawn from the field of sentence analysis, that is, from the work of Flor Aarts and Jan Aarts (University of Nijmegen, Holland) in English Syntactic Structures (1988), whose material has been tested in the classroom and developed over a number of years; also, another essential work is that of Rodney Huddleston, English Grammar, An Outline (1988).

Other classic references which offer an account of the most important and central grammatical constructions and categories in English regarding the expression of quantity, are Quirk & Greenbaum, A University Grammar of English (1973); Thomson & Martinet, A Practical English Grammar (1986); and Greenbaum & Quirk, A Stude nt’s Grammar of the English Language (1990).

Current approaches to notional grammar and, therefore, the expression of quantity are Angela Downing and Philip Locke, A University Course in English Grammar (2002); Gerald Nelson, English: An Essential Grammar (2001); Rodney Huddleston and Geoffrey K. Pullum, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002); and Sidney Greenbaum, The Oxford Reference Grammar (2000).


Before describing in detail the different ways of expressing quantity in English, it is relevant to establish first a theoretical framework for the notion of quantity, since it must be described in grammatical terms and also, by using key terminology. In fact, this introductory chapter aims at answering questions such as where the notion of quantity is to be found within the linguistic level, what it describes and how, and which grammar categories are involved in its description. Let us examine, then, in which linguistic level the notion of quantity is found.

2.1. Linguistic levels involved in the notion of quantity.

In order to offer a linguistic description of the notion of quantity, we must confine it to particular levels of analysis so as to focus our attention on this particular aspect of language. Yet, although there is no consensus of opinion on the number of levels to be distinguished, the usual description of a language comprises four major components: phonology, grammar, lexicon, and semantics, out of which we get five major levels: phonological, morphological and syntactic, lexical, and semantic (Huddleston, 1988).

First, the phonology describes the sound level, that is, consonants, vowels, stress, intonation, and so on. Secondly, since the two most basic units of grammar are the word and the sentence, the component of grammar involves the morphological level (i.e. the internal structure of words) and the syntactic level (i.e. the way words combine to form sentences). Third, the lexicon, or lexical level, lists vocabulary items, specifying how they are pronounced, how they behave grammatically, and what they mean. Finally, another dimension between the study of linguistic form and the study of meaning is semantics, or the semantic level, to which all four of the major components are related. We must not forget that a linguistic description which ignores meaning is obviously incomplete.

Therefore, we must point out that each of the linguistic levels discussed above has a corresponding component when analysing the notion of quantity. Thus, phonology deals with pronunciation of singular and plural forms (i.e. bus, buses); morphology deals with plural markers (i.e. –s, -es); syntax deals with the establishment of rules that specify which combinations of words constitute grammatical strings and which do not (i.e. determiner + noun ); lexis deals with the expression of amount by means of idioms (i.e. stubborn as a mule ), verb choices (i.e. rain vs. pour), adverbial expressions (i.e. speaking loud), or partitive constructions (i.e. a piece of furniture); and finally, semantics deals with meaning where syntactic and morphological levels do not tell the difference (i.e. ‘ You are here’ – you, 2nd person singular or you, 2 nd person plural).

2.2. On defining quantity: what and how.

The aim of this section is to define the term ‘quantity’ by linking the notion of quantity (what it is) to the grammar categories which express it (how it is showed). Actually, the notion of quantity refers to the ‘number’ or ‘the amount of’ items we are dealing with, and it is the answer to questions such as How much…? and How many…? Obviously, they both ask for similar information, except for a specific difference about the ‘exact amount of’, which can be definite (i.e. two, four), indefinite (i.e. some, any), or drawn from other means as those mentioned above.

Answers are directly drawn from different sources, such as nouns (i.e. one book, two books), pronouns (i.e. nobody, everybody, somebody), determiners (i.e. a, the, my, some, every, each ), or verbs (i.e. shout vs scream), and also from other grammatical structures such as partitive constructions (i.e. a glass of milk ) or idioms (i.e. She is as cold as a cucumber) among other means. All these expressions play their role in a linguistic description in terms of function , within a larger linguistic structure (i.e. subject, object, determiner, and so on), and category or class (i.e. noun, adjective, verb, and so on) when we view them as something that has individual characteristics.

Both function and word class are relevant for our present purposes since we must examine the expression of quantity through them. These expressions can be grouped together into word classes (also called parts of speech) following morphological and syntactic rules. In doing so, we may assign words to the same class we imply that they share a number of properties, for instance, on morphological grounds (i.e. typical endings for nouns, such as –s and ‘s) or on the syntactic ground (i.e. indefinite pronouns functioning as determiners: any of you). We must not forget the semantic criteria when dealing with verbs (i.e. speak, whisper, shout) or the phonological one when pronouncing singular and plural nouns.

Since the expression of quantity deals namely with nouns, let us examine first their nature in morphological and syntactic terms before describing other categories involved in it. In doing so, we shall handle appropriate syntactic terms, using the required key terminology on this field, thus noun, determiner, pronoun, indefinite pronoun, and so on.

2.3. Grammar categories: open vs. closed classes.

In order to confine the notion of quantity to particular grammatical categories, we must review first the difference between open and closed classes. Yet, grammar categories in English can be divided into two major sets called open and closed classes. The open classes are verbs, nouns, adjectives and adverbs, and are said to be unrestricted since they allow the addition of new members to their membership, whereas the closed classes are the rest: prepositions, conjunctions, articles (definite

and indefinite), numerals, pronouns, quantifiers and interjections, which belong to a restricted class since they do not allow the creation of new members.

Then, as we can see, when expressing quantity we are dealing with open and closed classes that, when taken to phrase and sentence level, may function as grammatical expressions and special structures. The classification of phrases reflects an established syntactic order which is found for all four of the open word classes (i.e. verb, noun, adjective and adverb ), and also for closed classes (i.e. prepositions, articles). However, it is very often possible to replace open classes by an equivalent expression of another class (i.e. indefinite pronoun in a variety of functions: subject (noun), object (pronoun) or predicative (determiner) ) as we shall see later.


As stated before, since the aim of this chapter is to define the term ‘quantity’ by linking the notion of quantity (what it is) to the grammar categories which express it (how it is showed), we shall offer a descriptive approach to the possible answers to questions such as How much…? and How many…? in a wide variety of expressions (definite, indefinite, partitive constructions, or idioms). Yet, our study will be primarily based on the notion of number , since singular and plural categories are the original markers for quantity.

Then, the expression of quantity will be first examined through the category of number, and then, through the grammatical categories, open and closed, related to it, such as nouns (i.e. one book, two books), numerals, pronouns (i.e. nobody, everybody, somebody), indefinite pronouns as determiners, determiners (i.e. a, the, my, some, every, each ), or by other means concerning verbs (i.e. shout vs scream) and other grammatical structures like partitive constructions (i.e. a glass of milk ) or idioms (i.e. She is as cold as a cucumber).

All these expressions play their role in a linguistic description in terms of function , within a larger linguistic structure (i.e. subject, object, determiner, and so on), and category or class (i.e. noun, adjective, verb, and so on ) when we view them as something that has individual characteristics. It is worth noting that quite often, we may find an overlap of categories when expressing ‘the amount of’ something, as for instance, between indefinite pronouns and determiners (each, both, all). But, we shall see it later. Now, let us start with the expression of quantity in relation to number category.


In order to describe quantity in terms of number, we must relate this notion to the general term ‘noun, which is applied to a grammatically distinct word class in a language having the properties of, first, denote persons or concrete objects, second, function as subject or object in clause structure, and third, the most important property for our present purposes, that is, the class to which the categories of number, gender and case have their primary application in languages.

In this section, we will find three main headings regarding the expression of number, first, in nouns; second, in numerals; and third, in pronouns. The latter subclassification will lead us directly to a further expression of quantity by means of determiners, indefinite partitive pronouns, quantifiers, and finally quantitative partitive constructions. These last sections will be examined separately.

4.1. In nouns.

Number, in English, applies both to nouns and (in combination with person) to verbs, so that we may contrast, say, The dog bites and The dogs bite. As far as English is concerned, number is evidently an important category for the characterisation of nouns, whereas gender and case are not: they apply to only a very few nouns of the pronoun sub-class (Huddleston, 1988). Moreover, at the English particular level, the three most important properties of nouns concern their function, their dependents and their inflection.

(1) Regarding their function, nouns usually occupy the head position in the structure of Nominal Phrases (NPs), being optional among subject, object, predicative, complement, or modifier of another noun. (2) Regarding dependents, nouns take a different range of dependents than other words, among which the most distinctive are: determiners (i.e. the, a, my, which, some, this, that, etc ); adjectives as pre -head modifiers; and restrictive relative clauses (i.e. who, which, whose, etc ). And finally, (3) regarding inflection, and the most relevant to us, nouns enter into inflectional contrasts of number, singular vs. plural, where the plural is formed by a variety of morphological processes.

The inflectional contrasts of number are directly related to the four main subclasses of noun, thus common nouns, proper nouns, pro nouns, and cardinal numerals. Regarding nouns, they are divided into proper and common nouns. The former cannot be preceded by articles, numerals and quantifiers whereas the latter can. Although proper nouns have unique reference (a particular person, country, town, etc) they are occasionally treated as count nouns so that they can be pluralized and preceded by numerals, articles and by quantifiers (many, few, several).

Common nouns may take a further sub-classification into count vs. noncount nouns (also called ‘countable’ and ‘uncountable’/‘mass’) and a further, but not so relevant, semantic distinction expressed by concrete vs. abstract nouns. But in order to examine determiner and number contrast in common nouns, we must address the number category singular vs. plural.

Let us examine, first, the properties of number in nouns regarding (1) singular vs. plural, (2) count vs. noncount expressions of amount. Later, number category will be examined in numerals and in pronouns. It is worth pointing out that, since cardinal numerals lie at the periphery betweeen the noun and determinative classes, it will be more convenient to leave them for consideration in subsequent chapters, under the definition of quantifiers .

4.1.1. Singular vs. plural.

The contrast singular vs. plural is drawn from the category of number which operates through subject-verb concord and pronominal reference, where every noun form is understood grammatically as either singular or plural (Greenbaum & Quirk, 1990). Singular, then, relates to the quantity one for count nouns, to the unique referent for most proper nouns, and to undifferentiated amount for noncount nouns whereas plural relates to the quantity more than one for count nouns, to the unique referent for some proper nouns (i.e. the Canaries=the Canary Islands), and to individual operational units that reflect plural composition (i.e. scissors, outskirts, stairs).

Note that within the term ‘plural’, we include different types (Appendix 1), thus first, variable vs. invariable plurals. Within variable plurals, we distinguish first, regular plurals (adding –s/-es) and irregular plurals (voicing, mutation, -en plural, zero plural and foreign plurals). Second, within invariable plurals, we further distinguish on the one hand, singular inva riables (concrete vs. abstract noncount nouns, proper nouns, some nouns ending in –s (news), and abstract adjectival heads), and on the other hand, plural invariables (summation plurals, pluralia tantum in –s, some plural proper nouns, unmarked plural noun s, and personal adjectival heads: the rich). Finally, in addition to singular and plural number, we may distinguish dual number in the case of both, either, and neither, since they can only be used with reference to two .

First, regarding variable plurals, we shall distinguish between regular and irregular plural formation. Since the vast majority of English nouns are count, they take plural formation in a regular and predictable way in (a) sound and (b) spelling. Regarding (a) sound, the plural of a noun is usually made by adding –s to the singular, which is the unmarked form, and is regularly realized in three ways at the phonological level: first, /s/ after bases ending in voiceless sounds except sibilants (i.e. books, roofs, lips, hats); second, /z/ after bases ending in voiced sounds except sibilants (i.e. trees, bars, days, beds, dogs, pens); and third, /iz/ after bases ending in a sibilant (i.e. horses /s/, noises /z/, brushes, mirages, churches, and bridges).

Regarding (b) spelling, for the most part, plurals are formed by simply adding –s to the singular (i.e. cat-cats, girl-girls). Other regular plurals add –es in nouns ending in –z, -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x and –o (i.e. waltzes, gases, dresses, wishes, matches, boxes and tomatoes). However, at the sound level, all of them get an extra syllable /iz/ when pronounced, except for those words ending in –o (i.e. echoes, potatoes), which are realized as /schwa+s/. Moreover, note that words or foreign origin or abbreviated words ending in –o add –s only (i.e. dynamo-dynamos, kilo -kilos, photo-photos, soprano -sopranos) and are not pronounced /iz/.

The spelling –(e)s is also found in the following two cases, where the spelling of the base is affected: first, in words ending in a consonant symbol + -y, where y changes into i (i.e. body-bodies, country-countries). Note that words ending in a vowel symbol + y, the plural is formed by adding – s. Second, there is a change in the words ending in –f, where the f of the base is changed into v (i.e. calf -calves, knife -knives, leaf-leaves).

Yet, there are some exceptions to the general pluralization rule which may present some irregularities . Thus, first, (1) voicing , which is a change in the base, from voiceless to voiced consonant, when a the regular suffix –s/-es is added (i.e. bath -baths, house -houses). Note that this may be reflected in spelling (i.e. knife -knives) or not (i.e. mouth -mouths). Secondly, (2) mutation, when a few nouns undergo a change of vowel sound and spelling (‘mutation plurals’) without an ending ( i.e. foot-feet, louse-lice, tooth -teeth, goose-geese, man-men). Thirdly, (3) –en plural, pronounced with schwa, involves both vowel change and an irregular ending, as for instance, child- children, ox -oxen, and brother-brethren, when used in the sense of ‘fellow members’.

(4) Fourth, zero plurals, which on being unquestionable count, have no difference in form between singular and plural, when referring to animals in general (i.e. sheep, cattle), and in particular, to those viewed as prey (i.e. They hunted two reindeer/woodcock and caught two trout/salmon ). Note the difference here between, on the one hand invariable nouns, which are either singular (i.e. The music is so trendy) or plural (i.e. All the cattle are in the field ), and, on the other hand, zero plural nouns, which can be both singular and plural (i.e. This sheep is small/all those sheeps are small).

(5) Finally, foreign plurals within regular type formation are those used in technical usage, whereas the –s plural, which is an English regular form is more natural in everyday language (Compare formulas (general) and formulae (in mathematics ). Numerous nouns adopted from foreign languages, especially Latin and Greek, still retain the foreign inflection for plural. Let us examine the main types of foreign plurals in present-day English.

Thus, from Latin (a) nouns in –us /schwa+s/ with plural –i /ai/ (i.e. stimulus-stimuli; focus, fungus, nucleus, chorus, circus ); (b) nouns in –us /schwa+s/ with plural –a /schwa/ for technical use (i.e. corpus-corpora, genus-genera); (c) nouns in –a with plural –ae /i:/ or /ai/ (i.e. alumna-alumnae, formula -formulae, diploma -diplomae); (d) nouns in –um /schwa+m/ with plural –a /schwa/ (i.e. curriculum-curricula; stadium, aquarium, symposium, ultimatum, bacterium, datum, medium); (e) nouns in –ex, -ix with plural –ices /isi:z/ (i.e. appendix, index, matrix ).

From Greek, (f) nouns in –is /is/ with plural –es /i:z/ (i.e. basis-bases; analysis, hypothesis, synopsis, crisis, thesis in opposition to regular plurals in –ises (i.e. metropolis); (g) nouns in –on

/schwa+n/ with plural –a /schwa/ (i.e. criterion -criteria, phenomenon, automaton ) in contrast to regular plurals as in demon, electron, neutron or proton . From French, (h) nouns in –e(a)u with plural ins or –x sometimes retain a French plural in writing but a regular English pronunciation /z/ in speech. They are pronounced with a final vowel in the singular and with a regular /z/ in the plural (i.e. bureau -bureaux or bureaus; similarly: plateau, tableau, adieu ). Other French nouns in –s or –x have no spelling change (i.e. chassis, corps, faux pas, patois ).

From Italian, (i) nouns in –o /schwa+u/ with plural in –i /i/ (i.e. tempo-tempi, and similarly, libretto, virtuoso ). Compare with soprano, only regular plural. Yet, mus icians usually prefer Italian plural forms for Italian musical terms (i.e. tempo-tempi, libretto, libretti) although regular English endings are also possible (i.e. librettos, tempos ). From Hebrew, (j) where the foreign plural is –im added to the noun base (i.e. kibbutz-kibbutzim, and similarly, the usually regular cherub, seraph).

Secondly, regarding invariable plurals, we may distinguish invariable singular vs invariable plural nouns which are resistant to number contrast, since there are singular nouns that cannot ordinarily be plural (i.e. meat, sugar ) and plural nouns that cannot ordinarily be singular (i.e. binoculars, sunglasses ). Within singular invariables, which take a singular verb, we distinguish five main types: (1) concrete noncount nouns (i.e. cheese, gold, furniture); (2) abstract noncount nouns (i.e. homework, music, solidarity, injustice); (3) some proper nouns (i.e. Shakespeares, her Mondays, Christmases); (4) nouns ending in –s are particular words, (i.e. news), some diseases (i.e. German measles, mumps, rickets), names in –ics (i.e. Physics, classics, phonetics), some games (i.e. bowls, dominoes, fives), and finally, (5) some proper nouns (i.e. Brussels, Athens, Wales, Naples ) or collective nouns (i.e. The United States, committee, counc il, government, team).

Within plural invariables , we shall distinguish five main types as well. Thus, (1) summation plurals (or binary nouns ), which refer to entities which comprise or are perceived as comprising two parts such as tools, instruments, or articles of dress (i.e. scissors, forceps; tweezers, scales; shorts, tights). Countability is usually achieved through quantity partition, thus ‘a pair of’, ‘several pairs of’; (2) pluralia tantum in –s (also called aggregate ) are nouns that only occur in the plural and refer to entities which comprise or are perceived as comprising an indefinite number of parts (i.e. communications=means of communication, and similarly, The Middle Ages(=Medieval Times), arms (=weapons),, customs (=customs duty), goods (=a goods train), the Lords (=The House of Lords), spirits (=mood). Note that with some items there is vacillation between singular and plural since when they have no –s, there is a difference in meaning (i.e. brain-brains, cloth -clothes, a troup of scouts-troops, manner-manners).

(3) Some proper nouns are pluralized when a title applies to more than one succeeding name, as in ‘the two Miss Smiths’, ‘the Kennedys’, and ‘the two Germanys’, especially in British English commercial use meaning ‘the firm of’ (i.e. the Johnsons or the Smiths ). Moreover, (4) we also find unmarked plural nouns which are not plural in form and emerge from some pluralia tantum, thus The data is/are useful, and similarly cattle, clergy, offspring, people, police, poultry, and vermin. And finally, (5) some personal adjectival heads of human nature, such as the rich, the young.

Remember that compound nouns form the plural in different ways, thus adding plural in the first element (i.e. passer-by, passers-by); in both first and last element (i.e. manservant, menservants), and the last and most usual way, adding plural in the last element (i.e. boyfriend, boyfriends; grown- up, grown-ups). Also, initials can be made plural (i.e. MPs=Members of Parliament, VIPs=very important persons, UFOs=u nidentified flying objects).

4.1.2. Count vs. noncount.

As seen before, nouns also reflect the category of number with the contrast between count vs. noncount nouns (also known as uncountable nouns or mass nouns), which is an important difference within common nouns regarding different interpretations of ‘the amount of’. Thus, the term ‘count’ refers to an ‘individual interpretation of an item’ from a larger set of discrete units that could be counted, that is, individual countable entities (i.e. table, building, tree, car, book, computer, disk ), whereas ‘noncount’ refers to an ‘undelimited’ interpretation of a substance (liquid or solid) rather than a unit, that is, an undifferentiated mass or continuum (i.e. sand, soap, jam, paper, water, air, hair).

It will be noticed that the categorization coun and noncount cuts across the traditional distinction between ‘abstract’ (broadly, immaterial) nouns like intelligence, warmth, greed and ‘concrete’ (broadly, tangible) nouns like bottle, cow, house. However, there is a considerable degree of overlap between abstract and non-count nouns, as in difficulty -difficulties, experience -experiences, sound- sounds (i.e. He’s not had much difficulty –noncount- vs. He’s had many difficulties –countable-).

Regarding count and noncount main features, we may say that countable nouns are easily detected because of plural forms, and that uncountable nouns are namely reflected in general abstract terms such as (1) names of substances (i.e. bread, beer, coffee, gold, oil, stone, wine); (2) abstract nouns (i.e. advice, courage, experience, fear, information, mercy, relief ); (3) other nouns considered countable in other languages (i.e. baggage, camping, damage, furniture, shopping, weather). Another feature of uncountable nouns is that they are always singular and are not used with indefinite articles, but often preceded by quantifiers like some, any, no, a little (i.e. I don’t want (any) advice or help; I want (some) information).

Hence, a plural triggers a count interpretation, as well as numerals, quantifiers (many, few, several, much, little), and definite or indefinite articles. Common countable nouns can be preceded by numerals, quantifiers (except for much, little ), and definite/indefinite articles whereas common noncount nouns can only be followed by the quantifiers much and little and the definite article. Consider the example of ‘John likes French cheeses only’ vs. ‘I am not fond of cheese’ or ‘They heard strange noises last night’ vs. ‘Don’t make much noise’.

With singular nouns, the determiners one, a, another, each, every, either, neither force a count interpretation, whereas enough, much, most, little and unstressed some or any induce a noncount interpretation (compare another/every cake with enough/some cake). A singular common noun without any determiner will normally take a noncount interpretation (i.e. He drinks whisky or She had lost all interest in the project). It should be borne in mind that the majority of nouns can be used with either kind of interpretation when using partitive constructions (i.e. a piece of, an item of, a bottle of, a loaf of, and so on ).

4.2. In numerals.

The expression of quantity by means of numerals, is namely give by three sets (Huddleston, 1988): cardinal numbers (one, two, three, etc) which give the exact amount of something by means of whole numbers, ordinal numbers (first, second, third, etc) which express the sequence order of items, and third, fractions. We must not forget that, since cardinal numerals lie at the periphery betweeen the noun and determinative classes, it will be more convenient to leave them for consideration in subsequent chapters, under the definition of quantifying pronouns .

To some extent they form a system sui generis, since they are not readily describable in terms of the categories that we use elsewhere in the language. For instance, it is not easy to decide whether the cardinal numbers larger than a hundred are to be analysed as single words or expressions. We might then regard them as very peripheral members of the word category. However, we shall concentrate on their main features.

Cardinal numbers , for instance, certainly have uses in which they are nouns, notably those where they carry the plural inflection (i.e. They went out in threes/twos). One major use is as determiner in a noun phrase (NP) structure (i.e. one mistake, thirty-five apples, three replies ). In some way, they have affinites with determiners, and they may occur in the plural (i.e. thousands of people). The ordinal numbers, on the other hand, are basically adjectives, having both attributive and predicative uses (i.e. He was the third person in the queue/He was third in the queue). They co-occur, except for first, only with count nouns, and they usually precede any cardinal number in the noun phrase (i.e. The first three planes were Italian ). Fractions are noun phrases with the structure of determiner + noun. Note the inflectional number contrast in the noun (i.e. one third vs. two thirds).

Moreover, we shall offer some general considerations on these three particular expressions of number: (1) Both types, cardinal and ordinal, can function pronominally or as premodifiers, except that nought (Br.E)/zero (Am.E). (2) This figure ‘0’ is called ‘nought’, oh, zero, and nill. We say ‘nought’ when it occurs chiefly as the name of the numeral, being replaced by the determiner no or the pronoun none in general use. We use ‘oh’ to say numbers and figures at the same time (pronounced as the letter ‘o’), and also when saying figures separately, as in telephone numbers, post codes, address numbers. Then, figures are pronounced in groups of three or four, but not in groups of two (as in Spanish). When used to refer to temperature, we must used ‘zero’, for both British English and American English (i.e. It is zero degrees Celsius today), and we say ‘nil’ when talking about games, sports, and scores (i.e. They won four-nill).

(3) Pronominally, the ordinals are preceded by an article (Today is the eleventh of June ) and resemble superlatives with ellipted heads. Ordina ls are used when talking about fractions and decimals (i.e. 1/6=one sixth; 2/5=two fifths ) or when expressing order or priority (i.e. He was the first one to cross the line). (4) And finally, we must bear in mind that not only cardinals and ordinals provide the notion of quantity, but also singular and plural measurements in fractions and decimals with the structure ‘of a + singular noun’ (i.e. two sixths of a centimetre ) or

‘decimals’+plural noun (i.e. 2,8 milimetres=two point eight millimetres).

4.3. In pronouns.

Once we have examined the properties of number in nouns regarding singular vs. plural and count vs. noncount expressions of amount, and in numerals, let us examine the category of number in pronouns. As we have seen, pronouns belong to the category of pro-forms, particularly associated with noun phrases, which constitute a heterogeneus class of items. Pronouns, in general, share several features, such as not to admit determiners, to have case, gender, and number distinction, and not to have singular and plural forms morphologically related.

Pronouns, then, fall into the following classification (Appendix 2): (1) specific pronouns and (2) indefinite pronouns. Within (1) specific pronouns we find (a) central pronouns (personal, reflexive, reciprocal, an d possessive), (b) relative pronouns, (c) interrogative pronouns, and (d) demonstrative pronouns. Within (2) indefinite pronouns, we find (a) universal pronouns, (b) partitive pronouns (assertive, non-assertive, and negative ), and (c) quantifying pronouns, also called quantifiers .

Before going into detail into this section devoted to pronouns, we must point out that pronouns often share certain characteristics with determiners since they have similar forms, and number category in particular. Therefore, we shall deal with those similarities under the heading of determiners in next section, that is, pronouns that behave as determiners.

4.3.1. Specific pronouns. Central pronouns.

Regarding specific pronouns, we shall start by examining central pronouns, which are divided into (1) personal, (2) reflexive,(3) reciprocal, and (4) possessive . First, (1) personal pronouns display a person contrast, that is, they have 1st , 2nd , and 3rd person forms which show gender contrast (feminine, masculine, and nonpersonal), case contrast (subjective, objective), and finally, relevant for our present purposes, number contrast (singular and plural).

Following Greenbaum & Quirk (1990), number has to be treated separately for each of the three persons of pronouns. With the 3rd person, number is closest in value to that with nouns (i.e a male officer vs. officers); with the 2nd person, there is a number contrast only in the reflexive pronoun (i.e. Look at your hand, Jack ). Also, possessive series has a separate plural in the reflexive (yourself, ourselves), where there is an interrelation between number and person whereas relative and interrogative pronouns and determiners distinguish between personal and nonpersonal gender.

Secondly, (2) reflexive pronouns, also called self- pronouns (Aarts, 1988), are marked for person and number, but not for case, and they are always coreferential with a noun or another pronoun, agreeing with it in gender, number, and person (i.e. Veronica herself saw the accident). However,

the item determining the reflexive may be absent from the clause in question (i.e. Look at yourself/yourselves in the mirror!).

Third, (3) reciprocal pronouns bring together two sentences with a reciprocal structure somewhat similar to a reflexive (i.e. David and Paula like each other/one another ). They are used independently in sentences with plural or coordinated subjects. One another is sometimes preferred to each other when reference is made to more than two.

Fourth, (4) within the class of possessive pronouns we can distinguish the categories of person (first, second, third), gender (in the 3rd person singular only), and number (except for the 2nd person). There are two subclasses of possessive pronouns according to their function: dependent and independent. First, those which function dependently as determiners in the structure of the noun phrase (i.e. ‘This is my bicycle’) or as independent items (‘This bicycle is mine’). Relative pronouns.

Regarding relative pronouns, they comprise two series: first, wh- items (who, whom, whose, which) and second, that and zero. Moreover, we can make a further distinction between personal (who, whom, whose), and non-personal (which, whose). In neither series are there distinctions of person or number, so they are not relevant for our present purposes. Interrogative pronouns.

Similarly, interrogative pronouns do not show number contrast, except for the distinction between What/Which girls do you like best? where ‘which’ implies the choice from a limited number of known girls whereas ‘what’ implies a choice from a non-specified indefinite number of girls. Demonstrative pronouns.

Finally, demonstrative pronouns do show number contrast and can function both as determiners and pronouns: this and that (singular), these and those (plural). This/these refer to what is near (spatially, temporally and psychologically), that/those to what is remote (i.e. Is this book yours?- Who is that lovely girl?- These photographs are the best – Were those Mary’s children? )

4.3.2. Indefinite pronouns.

Regarding indefinite pronouns (see Appendix 5), we namely find (1) universal pronouns, (2) partitive pronouns (assertive, non -assertive, and negative), and (3) quantifying pronouns (as only pronouns, as pronouns and determiners, and only as determin ers). We shall examine their relationship with number category will be discussed following Quirk & Greenbaum (1973) and Aarts (1988). Universal pronouns.

First, in order to examine universal pronouns (Appendix 3), we must consider first the universal compound indefinites (everyone, everybody, everything; no one, nobody, nothing), where the suffixes –one and –body are used for people whereas the ending –thing is for objects, and –where for places. Note that all except no one are written as single words. These words are used to express ‘totality’ or ‘lack of exception’.

These function only as pronouns, and despite their entailment of plural meaning, they take singular verbs (i.e. Everybody was out; no one wanted to come ), so ‘every- compounds’ and ‘each’ are used with personal count nouns in singular, and ‘everything’ and ‘each’ with un-personal count nouns. In plural, both personal and non-personal count nouns refer to ‘all/both’ and ‘all’ is used for both singular and plural nouns.

Among the ir main grammatical features, we can mention that ‘every’ and its compounds, despite their singular form, have collective reference, and ‘every’ entails reference to a number of three or (usually) more. Also, since universal pronouns denote people, they can take genitive suffixes as in everybody’s car. Regarding ‘each’, it may appear alone as a pronoun, but it is common to find the expression ‘each one’. ‘Both’ and ‘all’ are used for count nouns in plural. ‘All’ is also used for nouncount nouns and ‘both’ refers to dual number. They may appear medially with plural reference (i.e. They both/all are quite intelligent), referring to two people. In very formal style, ‘all’ is used to mean ‘everybody’ (i.e. All those who speak Italian ), and is also used in negative constructions (i.e. Not all the people speak Italian here). Partitive pronouns.

Secondly, partititive pronouns are considered to be parallel to the universal pronouns, where we have three sets of partitive pronouns with associated determiners (every, all, both, a(n), some, any, either, neither, none, no): first, assertive partitive indefinites, second, non-assertive partitive indefinites, and thirdly, negative partitive indefinites.

To start with, (1) assertive partitive indefinites express a positive but uncertain number of identity. They are used pronominally in affirmative sentences, where some and any have clear contextual

reference to a noun phrase (i.e. I would like some nuts, I haven’t any wine, He saw nothing ). The assertive pronouns somebody and somebody refer to people (personal) in count nouns (i.e. Somebody came yesterday) whereas somewhere and something refer to places and things, respectively (non-personal) in count nouns as well (i.e. My bag must be somewhere; I saw something strange).

‘Some’ is used for plural count and noncount nouns, both personal and non-personal (i.e. You need some lawyers/water) whereas ‘several’ is only used for plural count nouns, again personal or non- personal (i.e. You had several attacks/houses). When ‘some’ is used used to talk about an uncertain or indefinite quantity (i.e. Would you like some sugar?), it is pronounced with the weak form, with schwa. Note that although ‘some’ is used in interrogative form here, its basic meaning is still assertive. It may appear in this way in negative, interrogative or conditional sentences as well.

However, when used as a pronoun (i.e. I already have some ), it is pronounced with a strong form /s^m/. This strong form is given in three more situations: first, when it is used with singular count nouns to suggest ‘lack of interest and contempt’ (i.e. He met some girls I do not know); second, in contrast to ‘others’, ‘all’, or ‘enough’ (i.e. Some people like news, other do not); third, when it appears with a number to impress, meaning ‘about’ (i.e. He stole some ten million dollars).

(2) Non-assertive partitive indefinites express two ideas at the time, but still an uncertain number of identity since the basic meaning is negative. The contexts which require the any series namely involve (a) the negatives not, never, no, neither, nor; (b) the ‘incomplete’ negatives hardly, little, few, least, seldom, etc ; (c) the ‘implied’ negatives before, fail, prevent, reluctant, hard, difficult, and comparisons with too; and (d) negative, interrogative and conditional sentences.

In negative and interrogative sentences we have anyone and anybody for singular personal count nouns (i.e. I didn’t see anybody) and anything for singular non-personal count nouns (i.e. She didn’t buy anything). In plural, for count nouns in general, any (as some ) is used for noncount as well (i.e. She had no bananas/idea ). Since any is the negative counterpart of some, we may find it functioning as a pronoun (i.e. Did you find the pepper?- No, I didn’t find any). Its counterpart ‘either’ functions as a determiner, meaning ‘one or the other’, and occassionally ‘both’. However, we shall deal with determiner function in next section.

(3) Negative partitive pronouns include ‘nobody’ and ‘no one’ for personal reference in count singular nouns whereas ‘nothing’/’nowhere’ have non-personal reference. ‘None’ and ‘neither’ are used for singular count nouns, both personal and non-personal, and only ‘none’ is used for plural count and noncount nouns. Regarding their use, we must point out three main uses: (a) they may function as pronouns (i.e. None/neither passed the driving test); (b) they may refer to a singular or plural noun mentioned before (i.e. She bought lots of clothes and I bought none); and (c) they may be followed by an of- partitive, which is typical of the indefinites which have both a pronoun and a determiner where the final part is a personal pronoun/noun preceded by a definite determiner (i.e. Neither of the students/them came to the party ).

It is worth noting that the relationship between either, neither, and none is similar to that between each, every, and none among the universal pronouns. Both as pronouns and as determiners, either and neither have in fact a strictly dual reference (i.e. None of the thirty students/Neither of the two/Either student may fail the exam). Quantifying pronouns.

Also called quantifiers, this type of pronouns refer to the increase or decrease of ‘the totality, lack of, or partial amount’ of something. They may be classified into three main subclasses following Aarts (1988): (1) quantifiers which can only function as pronouns (i.e. Someone must laugh now), (2) quantifiers which can function both as a pronoun and as determiner (i.e. Some of the boys are orphans), and (3) quantifiers that function as determiner only (i.e. Every politician is responsible for our society).

First, (1) quantifiers which can only function as pronouns, are the universal and partitive pronouns together, thus someone, somebody, something; anyone, anybody, anything; everyone, everbody, everything; and no one, nobody, nothing, and none. Some examples will show how they function as the head of a noun phrase, functioning as universal pronouns: ‘I seem to have forgotten everything’ and None of the girls has/have been invited ’. Note that the word none has pronominal characteristics in that it can serve as a substitute for plural count nouns and noncount nouns (i.e. John has got lots of friends but I’ve got none; We asked for petrol but they had none ).

We must bear in mind that numerals are included in this type, and in particular, cardinal numbers since they give the exact number of count nouns. It is relevant here to establish the difference between two similar cardinal numerals: a/an vs. one. Regarding the uses of ‘one’ as the main marker for singular, it has three main features: (a) the so-called numerical one , when used with animate and inanimate singular count nouns. It is a stressed variant of the indefinite article a(n).

‘A’ or ‘an’ are unstressed forms of ‘one’ and are normally used in informal style whereas ‘one’, on the contrary, is used in formal contexts (i.e. This car costs a thousand pounds vs This car costs one thousand dollars). With hundred, thousand, million, the indefinite article (a or an ) often replaces one . ‘One’ is particularly used when emphasizing the number of items (i.e. I have a car vs. I have one car ).

It is in contrast with the dual two and both and the plural numerals three, four, several and indefinite some. It has similar contrasts when used pronominally (i.e. I need a a nail vs. I need one; I need some nails vs I need some; A boy vs one of the boys). Also, in contrast with the other (i.e. One bought a shirt, and the other one a jacket), and the somewhat formal or old-fashion use of one meaning ‘a certain’ before personal names (i.e. I used to sat next to one Charlie Brown at school).

(b) Another feature is the replacive one, used as an anaphoric substitute for a singular or plural count noun (i.e. I have a beautiful table.- Is it like this one?). It has the singular form one and the plural ones. It can take determiners and modifiers (though not usually possessives or plural demonstratives). It may also be modified by the –s genitive (i.e. I prefer Peter’s car to Charles’s one ).(c) The last feature refers to an indefinite one which means ‘people in general’, implying inclusion of the speaker (i.e. One could do it easily). It has the genitive one’s and the reflexive oneself (i.e. It is one’s problems).

Second, (2) qua ntifiers which can function both as pronouns and as determiners are namely divided into two types: first, enumerative quantifiers for singular and count nouns (a, an, one, and numerals) or plural count and noncount nouns (some, enough, both, all). Second, general quantifiers for count nouns (many, (a) few, several) and noncount nouns (much, (a) little ).

So, we shall include in this type the following quantifiers, functioning both as pronouns and determiners: some, any, each, all, both, either, neither; mu ch, many (more, most); (a) little, less, least; (a) few, fewer, fewest; plenty of, a lot of, lots of, a great deal of; enough, and several (‘Each student should have an exam’, ‘So far I have discovered few mistakes’, and ‘Much of what he said is irrelevant’).

Within enumerative quantifiers , we also include cardinal and ordinal numbers with the same characteristics as for ‘only pronouns type’ stated above, and the uses of ‘a/an’ vs. ‘one’. Apart from numerals, we include general quantifiers which comprise a variety of words and expressions. For instance, many and much are not different in meaning but they differ in context, since many is used only with plural count nouns (i.e. He said many stupid things ) and much only occurs with noncount nouns.

Note that when ordinarily used, they both usually appear in questions and negatives (i.e. How much water do you want? Or There aren’t many places to go here’). Yet, in order to get a formal style, they appear in affirmative sentences using synonymous expressions, called phrasal quantifiers, such as ‘a great deal of’ or ‘a large number of’+plural noun (i.e. There are a large number of witnesses to win the case’) or ‘a large amount of’+ singular noun (i.e We have a great deal of time ). In informal style, they appear again in affirmative sentences but using other expressions, such as plenty of, a lot of, lots of, or loads of, used for both count and noncount nouns.

Many and much have other particular uses, for instance, when combined with ‘too’, ‘so’, or ‘as’ in order to provide a negative feeling to the ‘amount of’ under consideration. For instance, ‘too many children were at home yesterday’ implies a negative connotation to the sentence as well as ‘so many children that I couldn’t sleep’. ‘Many’ may be used predicative ly, together with ‘few’, in formal style (i.e. His faults were many/few).

Similarly, ‘few’ or ‘a few’ or ‘several’ are used with count nouns whereas ‘little’ and ‘a little’, or ‘a little of’ occur with noncount nouns, in singular. They are usually given in formal style and tend to be avoided in informal one, being substituted by ‘not many’, ‘not much’ or ‘only a few’ or ‘only a little’. When comparing ‘few’ and ‘little’, we find a positive/neg<ative contrast depending on whether the definite article is used or not. For instance, when using the article ‘a few biscuits’ or ‘a little butter’, they have a positive meaning, thus ‘several biscuits’ and ‘some butter’. However, when no article is placed before, they mean respectively ‘not many biscuits’ and ‘not muc h butter’, with a negative meaning.

Several is rarely preceded by a determiner, and is always used with plural count nouns (i.e. He had several lovers). The quantifier enough is used with both count and noncount nouns (i.e. There are (not) enough chairs/There is (not) enough wine). Occasionally it follows the noun, when noncount, but this strikes many people as archaic or dialectal. Moreover, ‘each’ operates with singular reference (i.e. Each member was pressed to vote) and is targeted on the individual among the totality whereas ‘all’ and ‘both’ make plural and dual universal reference (i.e. Both men were arrested ). Syntactically speaking, the three of them may appear medially (i.e. The cars were all for export).

‘Neither’ is used with singular verbs (i.e. Neither parents realized what was going on) and its opposite is ‘either’, meaning ‘one or the other’ (occasionally meaning ‘both’). With ‘either’ we only use a singular noun (i.e. Either room is ok ). Finally, we shall mention the comparatives much, more, most; little, less, least; and few, fewer, fewest where ‘more’ refers to count and noncount nouns, ‘less’ only noncount, and ‘fewer’ only count nouns. We must not forget other words, grammatically and semantically related to cardinal and ordinal numbers, such as next, last, and (an)other.

Third, (3) quantifiers that function as determiner only. To this subclass belong every and no, as in ‘Everybody has its rights’ and ‘He has no money and no prospects’. This last function as only determiners will be dealt with in next section, which is labelled the expression of quantity

‘regarding determiners’.


There are three classes of determiners regarding the expression of quantity, and therefore, number. Thus, predeterminers, central determiners, and postdeterminers since they co-occur with the noun classes: singular count (i.e. car, bottle), plural count (i.e. cars, bottles ), and noncount nouns (i.e. furniture, intelligence ). Depending on the items they are combined with, they will have different realizations, and some of the pronouns seen before, will turn into determiners.

The function determiner marking number can be realized by a wide range of items, such as the definite article, the indefinite article, possessive pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, numerals, and certain indefinite pronouns (Appendix 4) marking number, which were considered to be pronouns and determiners at the same time. These comprise words such as each, all/both, no and the every compounds (count pronouns) and all /none (noncount).

For instance, each/none entails reference to two or more, and has individual reference (i.e. The knives were each tried in turn. None was sharp enough); with all and both , we make plural and dual universal reference (i.e. They produce cars, and all are for export; all these cars are for export). The converse of all is no(ne); that of both is neither, usually with singular concord (i.e. The police interviewed two suspects but neither was arrested; Neither suspect was arrested ).

These items occur in a fixed order with respect to each other (i.e. all his three children), and consequently, it is useful to distinguish three determiner sub-functions: (1) predeterminer, (2) central determiner, and (3) postdeterminer. The classes of items that can realize each of these subfunctionss are listed in Appendix 6. The choice of a given item from one column may impose certain restrictions on the selection of items from other columns, for instance many + plural nouns, regarding the expression of quantity.

5.3. Predeterminers.

Predeterminers form a class mutually exclusive, precedin those central determiners with which they can cooccur. It is relevant to distinguish two subsets: (1) all, both, half , and (2) the multipliers.

First of all, regarding (1) all, both , half , they have in common the positive characteristics of being able to occur before the articles, the demonstratives, and the possessives, hence their relevance in our discussion (i.e. all/both/half the/these/our students). However, they also have the negative characteristic of not occurring before determiners that themselves entail quantification: every, each, (n)either, some, any, no, enough.

On an individual description, the items ‘all’ and ‘half’ occur with plural count nouns and with noncount nouns, as in all the books/all the music and all books/all music, and half the book(s)/half the music. Note that, of the mentioned items, ‘half’ is the only one that can be followed by the indefinite article or numerals since fractions other than ‘half’ are usually followed by an of-phrase article (i.e. She read a quarter of the book; half an hour). However, ‘both’ occurs with plural count nouns, as in both the books/both books ’.

Secondly, regarding multipliers, we include the items once, twice, three times, expressions of emphasis and costing. Therefore, the items ‘double’ and ‘twice’ can combine with both singular and plural heads (i.e. all poetry; four times Peter’s salary; half this cheese; twice these sums ). On the other hand, expressions such as ‘many’, ‘such’ and ‘what’, when realizing the predeterminer function, are obligatory followed by the indefinite article (i.e. many a time, such a disgrace, what a pity ).

5.4. Central determiners.

Central determiners include the definite and indefinite article s as their commonest determiners since their distribution is dependent upon the class of the accompanying noun (singular or plural). In order to relate definiteness to number, we have the following system for count and noncount nouns.

First, beside the sole definite article the, we thus have two indefinite articles a and zero marker, the former occurring with singular count nouns, its zero analogue with noncount and plural count nouns (see Appendix 7). Both the and a have a different form when the following word begins with a vowel (i.e. a car vs. an apple ), though the does not display this difference in writing but in speaking (i.e. the book vs. the air /di/).

Second, like the definite and indefinite article, there are several other determiners that can cooccur equally with singular count, plural count, and noncount nouns: (a) the demonstrative pronouns (this, that, these, those) as in I prefer this/that/these/those picture(s); (b) the possessive pronouns (my, our, your, his, her, its, their) as in I admire her house/her books/her taste ; (c) the relative pronouns (which, what, whose) as in Which house do you prefer? Or What time is it?; (d) specifying genitive (all Peter’s clothes).

(e) Other items include the negative determiner no (i.e. He has no car), the universal determiners every and each (i.e. We need to interview every/each student), the nonassertive/negative dual determiners either and neither (i.e. Parking is not permitted on either side of the street/Parking is permitted on neither side of the street), the general assertive determiner some (i.e. I would like some bread ), the general nonassertive determiner any (i.e. We haven’t any bread), the quantitative determiner enough (i.e. We have enough bread). Among the rest, we find the quantitative much (i.e. We have much bread).

Note that the definite article, the demonstrative and possessive pronouns, and the genitive are alike in that they can be preceded by the predeterminer items all, both, double, half and twice, and followed by cardinal numbers, ordinal numbers and the words last and next. They also collocate with most of the other postdeterminer items. The indefinite article, for instance, can be preceded by half, many, such and what. An exception in combinations is that of every + a possessive (i.e. his (John’s, whose) every wish).

5.5. Postdeterminers.

Postdeterminers take their place immediately after determiners just as predeterminers take their place immediately before determiners. They include cardinal and ordinal numbers, next, last; few, fewer, fewest; little, less, least; many, more, most; other, own, same, such . Postdeterminers items exhibit such a wide range of collocational possibilities and restrictions that it is very hard to formulate general rules governing their behaviour. Yet, postdeterminers fall into two classes: ordinals (first, fourth, last, other) and quantifiers (cardinal numbers, many, few, plenty of, a lot of).

We should note a contrast involving few, a few, a little, little (already discussed before), and also between assertive and nonassertive usage. For instance, some items are predominantly assertive (such as plenty of, a few, a little, a good many), while others are predominantly nonassertive (such as much, many).

We shall illustrate their use by means of some examples. Thus, seven days, one more drink; the first two pages; the next few years, the last two weeks; few other people, little more news; many more accidents; (many) other problems, my own car, the same man. However, the status of the item such is different. It ma y be looked upon as a predeterminer when followed by the definite article. However, it may be also preceded by some central determiners and cooccur with some postdeterminers, as in any such questions, no such nonsense, some such concept, few such candidates, two such blunders, many such incidents.


As we have seen before, both count and noncount nouns can enter constructions denoting part of a whole. Such partitive expressions may relate to (a) quantity or (b) quality, and in eit her case the partition may be singular or plural. Obviously, for our present purposes, we shall deal mainly with the former. It thus affords a means of imposing number on noncount nouns, since the partition is generally expressed by a count noun of partitive meaning, such as ‘piece’ or ‘sort’, which can be singular or plural, followed by an of-phrase.

In this section, we shall deal then with the different ways of expressing quantity by means of- partitives, quantity and quality partition through phrasal quantifiers.

6.3. Of-partitives.

We have already dealt with of-partitives when dealing with partitive indefinite pronouns, so it will be familiar to us when checking this point again. It is typical of the indefinites (pronouns and determiners) to fuse these roles in of-expressions where the final part is a personal pronoun or a noun preceded by a definite determiner, for instance, some are doing well or some students are doing well.

We shall revise singular count partition, plural count partition, and noncount partition. (1) First, regarding singular count partition, we include each of, one of, any of, either of, none of, neither of (the students); (2) second, with plural count partition, we include all of, both of, some of, many of, more of, most of, (a) few of, fewer/fewest of (our supporters); and (3) third, with noncount partition, we distinguish all of, some of, a great deal of, much of, more of, most of, (a) little of, less of, least of, any of, none of (Vivaldi’s music). Note that comparative forms can be preceded by items of absolute meaning (i.e. There were a few more of our friends than I had expected).

Cardinal numerals are readily used in of-partitives (i.e. three of my friends are coming tonight). So too the ordinals, and these can be used with both count and noncount expressions (i.e. One third of his books were burned). With half, there is considerable freedom in usage, as a predeterminer (i.e. I saw half the show ) or otherwise, pronominally (i.e. I saw half of the show). Outside of-partitives, we find another , with a limited use as a pronoun, as in ‘There was another of those making noises’ but ‘another was reported yesterday’. By contrast, other does not enter into of-partitives, but in its plural form is otherwise common in pronoun usage (i.e. You should treat others as you would like to be treated yourself ).

6.4. Quantity partition.

Quantity partition is to be divided into (1) noncount means, (2) plural count nouns concerning specific sets of nouns, and (3) singular count nouns. Quantity partitive s may be expressions of precise measure (i.e. a yard of cloth, two kilos of potatoes), and also of fractional partition (i.e. He ate a quarter of that beef). Since there is no necessary connection between countability and referential meaning, many English nouns can simulate the plural only by partitive constructions where their translation equivalents in some other languages are count nouns with singular and plural forms (i.e. some information=some pieces of information; his anger=his bursts of anger).

First, regarding (1) noncount means, phrasal quantifiers provide a means of imposing countability on noncount nouns as the following partitive expressions illustrate: general partitives, as in plenty of, a lot of, lots of, a great/good deal of, a large/small quantity/amount of, a great/large/good number of . As these examples suggest, it is usual to find the indefinite article and a quantifying adjective, the latter being obligatory in Standard English with deal.

Other typical partitives can be used very generally when talking about noncount nouns, referring to ‘little bits of’ concerning measures, thus a pint of beer, a spoonful of medicine, a pound of butter, a slice of cake/bread/meat, a roast of meat, a few loaves of bread, a bowl of soup, a bottle of wine, a cup of coffee, a packet of sugar, a blade of grass, some specks of dust, and so on. Moreover, general partitives may be included, as in two pieces/a bit/an item of news/information/furniture .

Second, regarding (2) plural count nouns, here we tend to have partitives relating to specific sets of nouns, as in a flock of sheep/pigeons, two flocks of sheep; an army of ants; a company of actors; a crowd of people; a series of concerts, two series of concerts; a pair of scissors . Third, (3) regarding singular count nouns, we find a piece of a leather belt, a page of a book, two pieces of a broken cup, two acts of a play .

6.5. Quality partition.

Quality partition is expressed most commonly with kind, sort, and type, both in count and noncount nouns. Thus, when dealing with count nouns, we find a new kind of computer, several new kinds of computer(s), one sort of silk tie, two sorts of silk tie(s), a type of trousers, two types of food. Similarly, with noncount nouns, we find a delicious kind of bread/some delicious kinds of bread, a fashionable sort of wallpaper/fashionable sorts or wallpaper, a beautiful type of bird/some beautiful types of birds . Other quality partitives include variety , and (especially with such materials as drinks, coffee, whisky, rum or tobacco), blend.


Other means of expressing quantity may be drawn from (1) semantic choice of verb, (2) adverbial phrases, and (3) certain idioms which may imply the notion of quantity. Thus, first, within the semantic choice of verb, we may increase or decrease the ‘amount of’ the item implied in our speech by means of using different verbal choices, as for instance, the contrast between rain vs. pour, run vs. rush, eat vs. gulp, hit vs. smash , talk vs. whisper, and so on.

Secondly, within adverbial phrases, we may increase or decrease the notion of quantity by using certain adverbs in a sentence, such as the so-called frequency adverbs. For instance, compare the sentences ‘I always go swimming four times a week’ (100% frequency) vs. ‘I never go swimming’ (0% frequency). Thirdly, in a similar way, certain idiomatic expressions may imply a relevant difference in quantity, both concrete or abstract. For instance, compare ‘Charles is a bit stubborn’ vs. ‘Charles is stubborn as a mule’, ‘It is raining’ vs. ‘It is raining cats and dogs’, ‘She is very sensitive’ vs. ‘She is cold as ice’.


The various aspects of the expression of quantity dealt with in this study is relevant to the learning of the vocabulary of a foreign language since differences between the vocabulary of the learner’s native language (L1) and that of the foreign language (L2) may lead to several problems, such as the incorrect use of quantity expressions, especially because of the relevant differences between countable and uncountable nouns in English, still problematic for Spanish students of English.

This study has looked at the expression of quantity within lexical semantics, morphology and syntax in order to establish a relative simila rity between the two languages that Spanish-speaking students would find it useful for learning English if these connections were brought to their attention. An adult Spanish ESL student generally perceives that there is a great distance from Spanish to English, but a realization of how many words there are in common between current Spanish and English can offer a learner a ‘bridge’ to the new language.

The similarities and differences discussed in this study are based on a search for translation equivale nce in order to make student study easier. Current communicative methods may frown on explicit teaching of similarities, but we must remember that learners search for equivalents and translate from the L2 no matter how much teachers preach against it; offering learners metalinguistic information about equivalents in lexical items simply makes it official. Learners use

‘hooks’ no matter how much teachers try to avoid them in a communicatively- based classroom .

It has been suggested that a methodology grounded in part in the application of explicit linguistic knowledge enhances the second language learning process. In the Spanish curriculum (B.O.E. 2002), the expression of quantity is envisaged from earlier stages (ESO) up to higher stages (Bachillerato), and has been considered an important element of language teaching because of its high-frequency in speech. We must not forget that the expression of quantity is mainly drawn from closed class categories, such as nouns, pronouns, and indefinite expressions, which have a high frequency of use when speaking or writing.

Hence, the importance of how to handle these expressions cannot be understated since you cannot communicate without it. Current communicative methods foster the ‘teaching’ of this kind of specific linguistic information to help students recognize new L2 words. Learners cannot do it all on their own. Language learners, even 2nd year Bachillerato students, do not automatically recognize similiarities which seem obvious to teachers; learners need to have these associations brought to their attention.

So far, we have attempted in this discussion to provide a broad account of the expression of quantity between Spanish and English that we hope prove successful and complete.


Although the questions How much? And How many? may appear simple and straightforward, they imply a broad description of the means that make an appropriate answer suitable for students and teachers. So far, in this study we have attempted to take a fairly broad view of the expression of quantity since we are also assuming that there is an intrinsic connexion between their learning and successful communication.

Yet, we have provided a descriptive account of Unit 13, untitled The Expression of Quantity , whose main aim was to introduce the student to the different ways of expressing quantity in English. In doing so, the study provided a broad account the notion of quantity, starting by a theoretical framework in order to get some key terminology on the issue, and further developed within a grammar linguistic theory, described in syntactic terms as we were dealing with syntactic structures.

Once the notion of quantity was presented, we discussed how number, determiners, partitive constructions, and other means reflected this notion. Obviously, so many items with so many different terminology can make students feel unable to learn all the rules and exceptions involved in it. However, current communicative methodology is intended to give a better account of the relation between form and speech when communicating.

In fact, lexical items and vocabulary, and therefore, the expresión of quantity, is currently considered to be a central element in communicative competence and in the acquisition of a second language. As stated be fore, the teaching of quantity expressions comprises four major components in our educational curriculum: phonology, grammar, lexicon, and semantics, out of which we get five major levels: phonological, morphological and syntactic, lexical, and semantic.

In fact, for our students to express quantity properly, they must have a good knowledge at all those levels. First, on phonology which describes the sound level, that is, consonants, vowels, stress, intonation, and so on. Secondly, since the two most basic units of grammar are the word and the sentence, they must have good grammatical knowledge, which invoves the morphological level (i.e. the internal structure of words) and the syntactic level (i.e. the way words combine to form sentences).

Third, the le xicon, or lexical level, lists vocabulary items, that is, different items to express quantity, specifying how they are pronounced, how they behave grammatically, and what they mean. Finally, another dimension between the study of linguistic form and the study of meaning is semantics, or the semantic level, to which all four of the major components are related, specially for those ways of expressing quantity such as verbal choice or adverbial expressions.

Therefore, it is a fact that students must handle the four levels in communicative competence in order to be effectively and highly communicative in the classroom and in real life situations. The expression of quantity proves highly frequent in our everyday speech, and consequently, we must encourage our students to have a good managing of it.


– Aarts, F., and J. Aarts. 1988. English Syntactic Structures. Functions & Categories in Sentence Analysis. Prentice Hall Europe.

– B.O.E. RD Nº 112/2002, de 13 de septiembre por el que se esta blece el currículo de la Educación Secundaria Obligatoria/Bachillerato en la Comunidad Autónoma de la Región de Murcia.

– Council of Europe (1998) Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European Framework of reference.

– Downing, A. and P. Locke. 2002. A University Course in English Grammar. London: Routledge.

– Greenbaum, S. and R. Quirk. 1990. A Student’s Grammar of the English Language. Longman Group UK Limited.

– Greenbaum, S. 2000. The Oxford Reference Grammar. Edited by Edmund Weiner. Oxford University Press.

– Hymes, D. 1972. On communicative competence. In J. B. Pride and J. Holmes (eds.), Sociolinguistics, pp. 269-93. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

– Huddleston, R. 1988. English Grammar, An Outline. Cambridge University Press.

– Huddleston, R. and G.K. Pullum. 2002. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge University Press.

– Nelson, G. 2001. English: An Essential Grammar. London. Routledge.

– Quirk, R & S. Greenbaum. 1973. A University Grammar of English. Longman.

– Thomson, A.J. and A.V. Martinet. 1986. A Practical English Grammar. Oxford University Press.


(1) Classification of plural nouns (Quirk & Greenbaum, 1973).



Singular invariable

Non-count nouns: concrete (gold,

furniture )

Non-count nouns: abstract ( music, homework)

Proper nouns (The Alps, the Thames) Some nouns ending in –s (news, billiards) Abstract adjectival heads (the bad, the mean)

Plural invariable

Summation plurals (trousers, scissors)

Pluralia tantum in –s (thanks, outskirts) Plural proper nouns (the Netherlands) Unmarked plural nouns (cattle, sheep ) Personal adjectival heads (the young, the rich)


Regular plurals

Plurals in –s or –es (boy-boys; fly -flies)

Irregular plurals

Voicing (knife -knives; thief-thieves)

Mutation (man-men; goose-geese)

-en plural (brother-brethren)

zero plural (fish-fish)

foreign plurals (analysis -analyses)

(2) Classification of pronouns (Quirk & Greenbaum, 1973)

Specific pronouns


Personal (subject –I, you-, object –me, him- , genitive –their) Reflexive (myself, yourself, himself, ourselves, themselves) Reciprocal (each other, one another)

Possessive (mine, yours, his, hers, ours, theirs)


Who, which, that, whose


Who, whom, whose, which, what


This, that, these, those

Indefinite pronouns


Each, all, every, and every compounds.


Assertive (someone, something; some, several)

Non-assertive (anyone, anybody, anything, anywhere ) Negative (no one, nobody, nothing, nowhere, neither )


As only pronouns

As pronouns and determiners (General and enumerative:

many, much, few, little, one, some,etc) As only determiners

(3) Universal pronouns (Quirk & Greenbaum, 1973).








everyone everybody each

everything everywhere each




They (…) all/both

(them) all/both

clip_image001(4) Universal indefinites (Greenbaum & Quirk, 1990)









everyone everything everybody




every each




all/both all/both




Pronoun and determiner

no one nothing nobody







Singular or plural



clip_image001[1](5) Partitive indefinites (Greenbaum & Quirk, 1990)








pronoun determiner

someone something somebody




pronoun and determiner





anyone anything anybody



either any


pronoun and determiner




pronoun determiner

nobody nothing no one


any no none


pronoun a nd determiner


(6) Determiners classification (Aarts, 1988).




Central determiner



all both double half twice

many (a) such (a) what (a)

definite article indefinite article demonstrative pronouns possessive pronouns relative pronouns genitive


any each either enough every much neither no some what which whose

cardinal numbers ordinal numbers next, last

few, fewer, fewest little, less, least many, more, most other


same such

(7) Central determiners (Greenbaum & Quirk, 1990).





the book

the music


a book




the books


Books (zero)