Some or Some of? / Most or Most of? (Quantifiers – English Grammar)

Some of his hair is grey? Or some?

Quantifiers Used with Sentence Subjects

Here is a picture of George Clooney, a famous American actor. Which sentence(s) below would correctly describe his hair?

  1. Some hair is grey.
  2. Some of his hair is grey.

The correct answer is . Why? To explain, let’s look at each sentence individually.

“Some hair is grey.” 

The word some is a called a quantifier because it tells you the quantity (how much) of something. Other quantifiers include all, most, many, few, little, and none.

When we talk about something in general, we use the structure quantifier + noun. For example:

  • Most people like strawberries.
  • Many cities do not have public transportation.
  • Some animals can be good pets.

As you can see, these sentences are general.They aren’t talking about a specific group of people, cities, or animals.

However, the above sentence about George Clooney isn’t general. We are talking specifically about the hair on George Clooney’s head.  When you talk about a specific group, you use of, like in the below sentence:

“Some of his hair is grey.”

Anytime you talk about a specific group, you need to use of after the quantifier. Also, after ‘of,’ there needs to be a determiner (the/his/her/my, etc). Let’s compare some examples that talk about general and specific groups.

  • General: Most people like strawberries.
  • Specific: Most of the people I know like strawberries.  (determiner = the (also called an article))
  • General: Many clothes are made in Asia.
  • Specific: Many of my clothes are blue. (determiner = my (also called a possessive adjective))
  • General: Some webpages are not suitable for children.
  • Specific: Some of this website’s webpages are for students. (determiner = this)

Basic Rules

If you are speaking generally, then do not use “of” or a determiner (the/my/his/her, etc). Some people have grey hair.

If you are speaking about a specific group, then use “of” and a determiner. Some of my teachers have grey hair.

– Matthew Barton / Creator of Englishcurrent.com (Copyright)

Do you think you understand? Try this quiz!

Quantifiers Quiz – ESL

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6 comments on “Some or Some of? / Most or Most of? (Quantifiers – English Grammar)

  1. Mahoud Shalabi , lecturer . tripoliano@nemoglobal.com (Posted on 8-22-2016 at 20:05) Reply

    Splendid work, may God bless you whoever you are

    good deeds always last.

  2. John M. (Posted on 12-22-2016 at 20:51) Reply

    Excellent and very clear explanation.

  3. nazi from iran (Posted on 12-27-2016 at 06:15) Reply

    Tnx alot you are really outstanding

  4. Ana (Posted on 2-2-2017 at 14:12) Reply

    All grammar books should be as clear as your explanations.
    Thank you.

  5. NauSabi (Posted on 7-8-2017 at 23:44) Reply

    Is it correct to use some of united states people are bad or most of united nations are bad..

    1. mb Post author (Posted on 7-9-2017 at 00:34) Reply

      “Some of _the_ United States’ people are..” is okay and “Most of _the_ United Nations are” is also okay.

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