Use of a lot of, lots of, many, much, (a) few, (a) little, a bit of, etc.

◼️ Large and small quantities

 A lot of/lots of, many and much

These express a large quantity. We use a lot of and lots of with plural and uncountable nouns. But many goes only before plural nouns and much before uncountable nouns.

 Plural:  A  lot  of  people/Lots  of  people  work  in  London.

There aren't many trains on a Sunday.

Uncountable: You'll have a lot of fun/lots of fun at our Holiday Centre.

There isn't much traffic on a Sunday.

As a general rule, we use a lot of/lots of in positive statements and many or much in negatives and questions. 

Positive:There are a lot of tourists here.

Negative:    There aren't many tourists here.

Question: Are there many tourists here? How many tourists come here?

We also use many or much (but not a lot of) after very, so, too, as and how.

Very many crimes go unreported.

There were so many people we couldn't get in.

There's too much concrete here and not enough grass.

How much support is there for the idea?


 Lots of  is more informal than a lot of.

We can use quite and rather before a lot of but not before many or much. There are quite a lot of tourists here.

A great many is rather formal.

A great many crimes go unreported.

A lot of is rather more informal than much/many. In informal English we can use a lot of in negatives and questions as well as in positive statements.

There aren't a lot of tourists/many tourists here.

Is there a lot of support/much support for the idea?

 And in more formal English we can use many and much in positive statements as well as in negatives and questions.

Many tourists come here year after year.

◼️ (A) few, (a) little and a bit of

  A few and a little mean a small quantity. We use them mainly in positive statements. A few goes only before plural nouns and a little before uncountable nouns.

 Plural:Yes, there are afew night clubs in the city.

 Uncountable: I've still got a little money/a bit of money, fortunately.


A bit of means the same as a little, but a bit of is more informal.



We can use quite before a few and a bit of. There are quite afew night clubs in the city.

This means a fairly large quantity, similar to quite a lot of night clubs.

Only gives the phrase a negative meaning.

There are only afew night clubs in the city.

This means a smaller quantity than we might expect.

 Little can also be an adjective, e.g. I know a little/a small night club.

We can also use few and little without a. The meaning is negative. Compare these sentences.

Is this a holiday place? ~ Yes, there are afew tourists here. (afew tourists = some tourists, a small number)

 Is this a holiday place? ~ No, there arefew tourists/not many tourists here. It was three in the morning, but there was a little traffic.

◼️ (a little traffic - some traffic, a small amount)

 It was three in the morning, so there was little traffic/not much traffic. In informal speech not many/not much is more usual than few/little.



We can use very before few/little.

We can use a subject with not many/not much. Not many tourists come here.


◼️ Special patterns with many and few

 Many and few can come after the, these/those or a possessive. The few hotels in the area are always full.

Can you eat up these few peas?

Tim introduced us to one of his many girl-friends.

Look at this pattern with many a.

Many a ship has come to griefoff the coast here.

I've driven along this road many a time.

 This is rather literary. In informal speech many times or lots of times would be more usual.


◼️ Many or few can be a complement.

The disadvantages of the scheme are many.

This is rather literary. Many before the noun is more normal.

The scheme has many disadvantages/a lot of disadvantages.


◼️ Other expressions for large/small quantities


◼️ Large quantities

A large number ofpeople couldn't get tickets.

A dishwasher uses a great deal ofelectricity.

It uses a large/huge/tremendous amount ofelectricity.

Numerous difficulties were put in my way.

We've got masses of time/heaps of time/loads of time.  (informal)


◼️ Small quantities

Several people/A handful ofpeople got left behind.

A computer uses only a small/tiny amount ofelectricity.
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