Unit 9.1

Non-Universal Quantifiers

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Introduction

Quantifiers [cuantificadores] are words that indicate a quantity of the subject or object.

They are classified as universalnon-universal, numeral, non-numeral, and gradational (or degree).

Non-universal quantifiers [cuantificadores no universales] indicate that something is true for all individuals and express quantity, diversity, equality, or quality in the sentence.

Form

Non-universal quantifiers can be affirmative or negative.

Affirmative quantifiers have the following characteristics:

  • they are variable, i.e., they usually agree with the noun in gender and number;
Singular Plural
poco/a pocos/as
mucho/a muchos/as
demasiado/a demasiados/as
  • The quantifier bastante agrees only in number.
Singular Plural
bastante bastantes

 

Example

  • Queda poca leche en el frigo;
  • Hay pocos desayunos nutritivos;
  • Sale mucha agua del grifo;
  • Vendemos muchos tipos de pan;
  • En la tienda hay demasiada cerveza;
  • Nunca hay demasiados barriles de vino tinto;
  • Tenemos bastante agua para dos días;
  • Compramos bastantes bocadillos de lomo.

Use

Non-universal quantifiers indicate an indeterminate quantity of the noun to which they refer. They can express quantity, diversity, equality, or quality:

  • poco/-a/-os/-as is used to express a small amount, quality, or intensity sometimes considered insufficient (opposed to mucho);
  • mucho/-a/-os/-as is used to speak of a large, abundant quantity;
  • bastante(s) is used to express an indeterminate quantity between algunos (s) and mucho(s) or to have the meaning of suficiente(s);
  • demasiado/-a/-os/-as is used to describe an amount that exceeds what is necessary or desirable.

Summary

In Spanish, quantifiers are words used to emphasise qualities of the noun to which they refer:

  • Poco: agree in gender (poca) and number (pocos/pocas) ro refer to a scarce quanttiy;
  • Mucho: agree in gender (mucha) and number (muchos/muchas) to refer to a large quantity;
  • Bastante: agree only in number (bastantes) and is used for a sufficient quantity.

For example:
— «Me queda poco dinero.» = Poco agrees in gender and number with dinero;
— «Tengo mucha hambre.» = Mucha agrees in gender and number with hambre;
— «Tengo bastantes cosas que hacer.» = Bastantes agrees in number with cosas.

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on to the {Example} section, which shows you the usage in context.

Exercises


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