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Level

1
2

Oxford English Grammar Course Basic

a lot of and lots of


A lot of and lots of are common in an informal style. They mean the same.
I havent got a lot of time just now.

Hes got lots of money and lots of friends.

We can use both expressions before singular (uncountable) or plural nouns.


% a lot of / lots of + singular subject: singular verb
A lot of his work is good.
%

Lots of his work is good. (NOT Lots of his work are good.)

a lot of / lots of + plural subject: plural verb


Lots of his ideas are good.

A lot of his ideas are good. (NOT A lot of his ideas is good.)
If we use a lot or lots without a noun, we dont use of.
Have you got a lot of work? Yes, a lot. (NOT Yes, a lot of.)

%
1 Circle the correct answer.
1
2
3
4

Lots of people have / has computers now.


There is / are lots of cinemas near here.
Lots of snow has / have fallen today.
Problems? Yes, a lot / a lot of.

In armative (O
+ ) sentences in
conversation, a lot of and lots of are
more natural than much/many (see page 173).

5
6
7
8

A lot of my friends work / works in London.


Any letters for me? A lot / A lot of.
A lot of things need / needs to change.
There is / are lots of food in the fridge.

not much hair

not many teeth

We eat a lot of vegetables.


(NOT We eat many vegetables.)
This car uses lots of petrol.
(NOT This car uses much petrol.)
a lot of / lots of hair

a lot of / lots of teeth

Plenty of can be used in the same way as a lot of / lots of.

%
2 Put in plenty of with words from the box.
eggs

food

ideas

paint 

patience

time

What do you need:


plenty of paint
if youre painting a big house?
1 if youre very hungry?
2 if youve got a lot of work?
3 if you work with small children?
u

warm clothes

4
5
6
7

water

if youre in the Arctic?


if youre making a big omelette?
if youre crossing the desert?
if youre writing a novel?

%
3 GRAMMAR AND VOCABULARY: towns
Make sure you know the words in the box. Use a dictionary if necessary. Then write four
sentences about a town, using a lot of / lots of / plenty / not much / not many.
bookshops cinemas hotels
parks restaurants theatres
u

industry
trac

libraries

markets

nightlife

In Oxford there are a lot of museums; there is not much industry.

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174 DETERMINERS
Michael Swan and Catherine Walter 2012
44220761_OEGCBnokey.indb 174

14/9/10 15:28:40

Oxford English Grammar Course Basic

Level

1
2

a little and a few a little English; a few words


We use a little with singular (uncountable) nouns, and a few with plurals.
If youre hungry, weve got a little soup and a few tomatoes.

%
1 Put in a little or a few.
1
2
3
4
5

I know
English.
I speak
words of Spanish.
Ill be on holiday in
days.
Can you give me
help?
Grace will be ready in
minutes.

6
7
8
9
10

Could I have
Id like to ask you
Im having
The soup needs
Im going away for

more coee?
questions.
trouble with the police.
more salt.
weeks.

Little and few (without a) have a rather negative (O


- ) meaning (like not much/many).
A little and a few have a more positive (O
+ ) meaning (like some).
Weve got a little food in the house if youre hungry. (= some, better than nothing)
There was little food in the house, so we went to a restaurant. (= not much, not enough)
His lesson was very dicult, but a few students understood it. (= more than I expected)
His lesson was so dicult that few students understood it. (= not many, hardly any)

%
2 Circle the correct answer.
u

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

I have little / a little time to read newspapers and no time at all to read books.
Come about 8 oclock; Ill have little / a little time then.
There was little / a little water on the mountain, and we all got very thirsty.
Foreign languages are dicult, and few / a few people learn them perfectly.
Im going to Scotland with few / a few friends next week.
Ive brought you few / a few owers.
Life is very hard in the Arctic, so few / a few people live there.
She was a dicult woman, and she had few / a few friends.
Would you like something to drink? Little / A little water, please.

Little and few are rather formal; in conversation we use not much/many or only a little/few.
There wasnt much food in the house. OR There was only a little food in the house.
The lesson was so dicult that not many / only a few students understood it.

%
3 Make these sentences more conversational.
u

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8

I only speak a little English


I speak little English.
There was little room on the bus.
Few people learn foreign languages perfectly.
She has few friends.
We get little rain here in summer.
This car uses little petrol.
There are few owers in the garden.
Our town gets few tourists.
We have little time to catch the train.

OR

I dont speak much English.

We can use (a) little and (a) few without nouns if the meaning is clear.
Have you got any money? A little.

Did you buy any clothes? A few.

In some answers, both contracted forms (for example Im, dont) and full
forms (for example I am, do not) are possible. Normally both are correct.
Michael Swan and Catherine Walter 2012
44220761_OEGCBnokey.indb 175

DETERMINERS 175

14/9/10 15:28:40