What Are Quantitative Adjectives? Definition and Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on August 18, 2023

If you're here to learn about quantitative adjectives, you won't be disappointed. This article will teach you everything you need to know about them and how to use them in your writing.

In short:

  • Quantitative adjectives are modifying words that give information about the quantity of the sentence's subject or object.

This guide is part of our free online Grammar Book.

What Are Quantitative Adjectives?

Quantitative adjectives are a specific category of adjectives that you can use to give information about the quantities of a sentence's noun; that's usually people, animals, places, ideas, etc.

  • Adjectives, as you may know, are a part of speech known as modifiers. They either modify the sentence's subject (predicate adjectives) or tell us about the noun that's either the subject or the object of the sentence (attributive adjectives).

Quantitative adjectives are no different. They're simply a category of adjectives.

There are lots of other categories, including:

  • quantitative
  • demonstrative
  • possessive
  • interrogative
  • distributive adjectives

An adjective can reveal information about quantities. A quantitative adjective does precisely that. It answers the question "How much?" or "How many?".

Note that quantitative adjectives can be used with both countable and non-countable nouns. That's right; even adjectives that can't be counted can still be qualified in terms of amount.

To recognize a quantitative adjective in a sentence, look for the word that talks about quantities. This might be in an obvious way, like by using numbers, or it could be in a less obvious way, like with words such as 'some.'

In fact, there are three types of quantitative adjectives:

  • indefinite
  • definite
  • distributive

Definite Quantitative Adjectives

Definite quantitative adjectives, as stated, are the most 'obvious' kind in this category of adjectives. To put it simply, they're numbers. Cardinal numbers like 'one,' 'two,' and 'three' and ordinal numbers like 'first,' 'second,' and 'third.'

Here are some examples:

There's still one piece of cake left if anybody wants it.

This is the second time I've aked you to clean your room. 

There are forty children, all screaming for the same balloon

This type of quantitative adjective can only be used with countable nouns, not with uncountable ones. For example, you wouldn't be able to say, "I made two arts." You'd have to use a countable noun like 'piece' and instead phrase it as "I made two pieces of art."

Indefinite Quantitative Adjectives

Indefinite quantitative adjectives aren't straight-up numbers, but they still determine quantities. They give a general or approximate idea of the quantity, as opposed to definite ones, which are specific.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of indefinite quantitative adjectives:

  • several
  • either
  • some
  • all
  • any
  • few
  • many
  • much
  • most

Here are some examples in a sentence:

There are several nice cafes around here.

She doesn't want either of these dresses; do you have any others?

I have some idea of what to expect.

Some of these can be used with countable nouns only, while others can only be used with non-count nouns. Notice, for example, in the last sentence where 'some' is used with the non-count noun 'idea' (this sentence refers to the abstract concept of 'idea' rather than the concrete concept of 'having an idea,' which can be counted).

Distributive Adjectives

Distributive adjectives are actually a different category of adjectives, but they do count as quantitative adjectives because they indicate quantity. Specifically, they single out individual people or things within a group.

Here's a non-exhaustive list of distributive adjectives:

  • each
  • every
  • neither
  • any
  • either
  • both

Here are some examples in a sentence:

Neither one of us has ever been to Australia.

I'd like to speak to both of you privately.

Each mug is unique.

Distributive adjectives can't be used with non-count nouns because the idea with nouns that you cannot count is that there's only one, so there'd be no point in using a distributive adjective to explain which one you're referring to. For example, you wouldn't say, "Both skies are blue" because, well, there's only one sky.

Sentence Examples

I'm now going to show you some sentence examples that use quantitative adjectives. The adjective itself is underlined in all the examples, just like I've done with all the examples throughout this article.

I haven't been able to connect either device to the internet.

You can only survive a few days without water.

We only have ten seats but there are eleven of us.

Do you have any butter? 

Every child shall receive a certificate of participation. 

Several roads can lead to Rome.

There are two bass players in the band.

Both routes take us through the countryside.

I've got one brother and two sisters.

Much of the movie didn't have any dialogue so it was hard to follow.

Concluding Thoughts

That concludes this article on quantitative adjectives. I hope you found it helpful. You're now equipped to use these in your own writing.

Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • Quantitative adjectives are a type of adjective used to express quantity.
  • You can use them with both countable and uncountable nouns.
  • There are three kinds: definite, indefinite, and distributive.

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Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

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