a article with quantitative words

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jalaluddin

Senior Member
India - Hindi & English
In english why Quantitative words such as, Few, Little, lot of take a article whereas Lots of, Much, Many...They are not used with a article.

a few
a little + To make countable quantities with uncountable noun
a lot of use "a...of".....is understood

Much
Many
Lots of + But why not with these quantitative......."a...of"
 
  • tonko

    Senior Member
    Italian
    at least as I know there is no a general rule for that, and it is not true that the words mentioned above are always with or without an article.
    actually even the meaning is different, that is a quite common mistake in English

    a little is more than little

    a few is more than few


    and also , a little and a few convey a positive meaning whilst,
    little and few convey a negative meaning


    hope this helps

    cheers
     

    jalaluddin

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi & English
    sweetheart I know these.......I want to know why article "a" is put with only few, little, lot of .................(a article represent singular countable noun) - Why and why not with much, many, lots of....

    Is there any specific rule in english for them ?

    a little is more than little

    a few is more than few
     

    iconoclast

    Senior Member
    english - anglo-irish
    I think it's a specific English adaptation of a Germanic thing that's also generally an Indo-European thing. Every language has its accidents, and you'd need to delve into the history to find this one out.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    I'm not a native English speaker but I guess I could explain this.

    If you have one dollar with you now, you can evaluate the money in two ways; one is positve and the other is not positve. But when you have a lot of money, you can not evaluate that negatively.

    This is the reason English does not have expressions such as 'a many' or 'a much', so I guess.
     

    taked4700

    Senior Member
    japanese japan
    You seem to be not satisfied with my explanation.

    So, I try once again.

    "Few" and "little" are both negative words to mean you are not supplied enough or people or things involved are not in majority.

    But when you have one dollar with you, you can evaluate your situation in two ways;

    1. positive or affirmative ; I think I can survive today with this money at least. I could buy a bunch of food to eat with this money.

    2. negative or pessimisive ; I think I would die soon due to the lack of money to spend on food.

    The same condition with only one dollar with you could be viewed in the two ways, which shows the reason English needs one other expression besides "few" and "little" and they invented the way to show possitivity or affimativeness by adding "a/an" because "a/an" means something concrete that you can touch or see and something that only exists as one entity.

    In the case you have a lot of money, you don't need to evaluate the situation negatively, in other words, muchness or maniness is not a concrete idea because you can add something more always and call it as 'many' or 'much'. There is no limit between what is more and what is less.
    You will say you have a lot of money when you evaluate the money you have now with you as sufficient to do something. You can't say you have a lot of money when you evalute the money as not enough to do something. The connotations of "much" or "many" are in one way.

    But as for a smallness or littleness there is the clear limit, that is zero. So, here comes necessity to evaluate that situation in two ways.

    I guess I made some mistakes in choosing words and expressions but I also guess the explanation I made is not so far from the point.
     
    Last edited:

    Delphicorc

    New Member
    English - Canadian
    In english why Quantitative words such as, Few, Little, lot of take a article whereas Lots of, Much, Many...They are not used with a article.
    Your question is a good one and I don't think the answers so far get to the heart of the issue. Firstly it is not 'a' article but rather 'an' article - remember to add the 'n' to 'a' in front of vowel. Now for the answer. I think the best way to explain it is that while all the words you cite can be used as quantitative adjectives those such as 'few' 'lot' 'little' can also act as pronouns and so are capable of taking their own article. 'much' is never used as a pronoun and so never takes its own article but 'many' is curious because it can be used as a pronoun e.g. "many expected to to be trapped overnight" it can never take 'a' as an article but it can take 'the' although it rarely would.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    In english why Quantitative words such as, Few, Little, lot of take a article whereas Lots of, Much, Many...They are not used with a article.

    a few
    a little + To make countable quantities with uncountable noun
    a lot of use "a...of".....is understood

    Much
    Many
    Lots of + But why not with these quantitative......."a...of"
    I think we are better at explaining usage than at justifying it (saying how it evolved). There are a few obvious points here:

    1. Several of the words you mention are used both with and without the indefinite article, thus we can say:

    I've seen a few mice today or I've seen few mice today.
    I've eaten a little bread today or I've eaten little bread today.

    The meaning is different in each case, of course.

    2. Many implies a plural which conflicts with the singular implied by the indefinite article, a. However, perhaps surprisingly, we can say a great many. I suspect that this is because it used to be a collective noun, though I may be influenced in this view by the meiny of bullocks in this old Christmas Carol. Meiny may be another word altogether, of course, though I doubt it.
     
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