Cover Page ofThe Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
Table of ContentsWriting TimelineHelpCredits

Section 6.8.1.5

Quantifiers

Quantifiers include words such as all, most, many, more, some, none, few, both, each, and every. Some quantifiers are singular, some are plural, andsome may be either. Be sure to choose an appropriate verb whenever the subjectincludes a quantifier.When you use a quantifier to modify an uncountable (mass) noun, choose a singular verb.


Unacceptable

In a given location, more solar energy reach the earth'ssurface on a clear, long day than on a day that is clear but much shorter.

Acceptable

In a given location, more solar energy reaches theearth's surface on a clear, long day than on a day that is clear but muchshorter.

--C. Donald Ahrens, Meteorology Today (modified)


Use a plural verb when you modify a countable nounwith one of the following quantifiers: all, most, many, some, few,both.


Unacceptable

Some hibernating turtles holds their breath all winterlong.

Acceptable

Some hibernating turtles hold their breath all winterlong.

--"Take It or Leave It," Valley Comic News

Unacceptable

Many chemical sensors relies on electrochemicalprinciples, whereby the relevant chemical species induces a change in electricalcurrent or voltage at an electrode.

Acceptable

Many chemical sensors rely on electrochemicalprinciples, whereby the relevant chemical species induces a change in electricalcurrent or voltage at an electrode.

--Philip Ball, Designing the Molecular World


When you use a quantifier followed by of, choose a verb that agrees innumber with the noun that follows the quantifier.


Unacceptable

More than half of the whales in the worldis less than 15 feet long.

Acceptable

More than half of the whales in the worldare less than 15 feet long.

--"Take It or Leave It," Valley Comic News

Unacceptable

Some of the water contain deuterium.

Acceptable

Some of the water contains deuterium.


The quantifiers one, each and every normally takesingular verbs, whether or not they are followed by of.


Unacceptable

Every wild creature need a certain amount of territoryfor its survival, and the grown tiger is said to need more than any other landanimal.

Acceptable

Every wild creature needs a certain amount of territoryfor its survival, and the grown tiger is said to need more than any other landanimal.

--"Take It or Leave It," Valley Comic News

Unacceptable

In contrast to ordinary light, which vibrates in all directions at rightangles to the line of propagation, a light ray that penetrates calcite is brokeninto two rays by the internal structure of the crystal, and each of thetwo rays that pass through the crystal vibrate inonly one plane. Light so modified that it vibrates in only one plane is said tobe polarized.

Acceptable

In contrast to ordinary light, which vibrates in all directions at rightangles to the line of propagation, a light ray that penetrates calcite is brokeninto two rays by the internal structure of the crystal, and each of thetwo rays that pass through the crystal vibrates inonly one plane. Light so modified that it vibrates in only one plane is said tobe polarized.

--James Gilluly, Principles of Geology (modified)

Unacceptable

Each stage bring environmental destruction as the usualby-product, in the form of pollution and the destruction of land andecologies.

Acceptable

Each stage brings environmental destruction as the usualby-product, in the form of pollution and the destruction of land andecologies.

--Kai Wu, "Prometheus Returns," SciTech Magazine


After a coordinate noun phrase (two or more nounsjoined by a coordinating conjunction such asand) beginning with each or every, use a singularverb.


Unacceptable

Each man and woman who applied for the positionwere considered carefully.

Acceptable

Each man and woman who applied for the positionwas considered carefully.

Special case: When each follows a plural noun or pronoun or a compound subject (two or more nouns orpronouns joined by the coordinate conjunction and), use a plural verb.


Unacceptable

They each is applying for the position.

Tom and Jeannine each is applying for theposition.

Acceptable

They each are applying for the position.

Tom and Jeannine each are applying for theposition.


Reference Link Text
## Agreement: Quantifiers ##
Reference Link Text

[ Home | Table of Contents| Writing Timeline | Index |Help | Credits]

Copyright ©2001 The McGraw-Hill Companies. Any use is subject to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. McGraw-Hill Higher Education is one of the many fine businesses of
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
.
Corporate Link