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?
- Some hair is grey.
- 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)
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)
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Quantifiers Quiz – ESL
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