Expressions of Quantity - Quynh Huong Center for Foreign Language Translation & Education

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3 Jul 2014

Expressions of Quantity

1. Used with plural nouns and verbs, especially in negative sentences or in more formal English, to mean ‘a large number of’. Also used in questions to ask about the size of a number, and with ‘as’, ‘so’ and ‘too’: We don’t have very many copies left. You can’t have one each. We haven’t got many. Many people feel that the law should be changed. Many of those present disagreed. How many children do you have? There are too many mistakes in this essay. He made ten mistakes in as many (= in ten) lines. New drivers have twice as many accidents as experienced drivers. Don’t take so many. I’ve known her for a great many (= very many) years. Even if one person is hurt that is one too many. It was one of my many mistakes. A many-headed monster
2. The many used with a plural verb to mean ‘most people’: a government which improves conditions for the many
3. Many a (formal) used with a singular noun and verb to mean ‘a large number of’: Many a good man has been destroyed by drink.

As many as …: Used to show surprise that the number of people or things involved is so large: There were as many as 200 people at the lecture.
Have had one too many: (Informal) to be slightly drunk
Many’s the …: (formal) used to show that sth happens often: Many’s the time I heard her use those words.
Many / a lot of / lots of
Many: is used only with countable nouns. It is used mainly in questions and negative sentences: Do you go to many concerts? How many people came to the meeting? I don’t go to many concerts. Although it is not common in statements, it is used after so, as and too: You made too many mistakes.
In statements a lot of or lots of (Informal) are much more common: I go to a lot of concerts. ‘How many CDs have you got?’ ‘Lots!’ However, they are not used with measurements of time or distance: I stayed in England for many / quite a few / ten weeks. I stayed in England a lot of weeks. When a lot of / lots of means ‘many’, it takes a plural verb: Lots of people like Italian food. You can also use plenty of (Informal): Plenty of stores stay open late. These phrases can also be used in questions and negative sentences.
A lot of / lots of is still felt to be Informal, especially in BrE, so in formal writing it is better to use many or a large number of in statements.

Used with uncountable nouns, especially in negative sentences to mean ‘a large amount of sth’, or after ‘how’ to ask about the amount of sth. It is also used with ‘as’, ‘so’ and ‘too’: I don’t have much money with me. ‘Got any money?’ ‘Not much.’ How much water do you need? How much is it (= what does it cost)? Take as much time as you like. There was so much traffic that we were an hour late. I’ve got far too much to do. I lay awake for much of the night. There was much discussion about the reasons for the failure.

As much: the same: Please help me get this job—you know I would do as much for you. ‘Roger stole the money.’ ‘I thought as much.’
As much as sb can do: used to say that sth is difficult to do: No dessert for me, thanks. It was as much as I could do to finish the main course.
Not much in it: used to say that there is little difference between two things: I won, but there wasn’t much in it (= our scores were nearly the same).
Not much of a …: not a good …: He’s not much of a tennis player.
This much: used to introduce sth positive or definite: I’ll say this much for him—he never leaves a piece of work unfinished.
(More, most) to a great degree: Thank you very much for the flowers. I would very much like to see you again. He isn’t in the office much (= often). You worry too much. My new job is much the same as the old one. Much to her surprise he came back the next day. She’s much better today. The other one was much too expensive. Nikolai’s English was much the worst. We are very much aware of the lack of food supplies. I’m not much good at tennis. He was much loved by all who knew him. An appeal to raise much-needed cash
Much as: although: Much as I would like to stay, I really must go home.
Much / a lot of / lots of
Much is used only with uncountable nouns. It is used mainly in questions and negative sentences: Do you have much free time? How much experience have you had? I don’t have much free time.
In statements a lot of or lots of (Informal) is much more common: ‘how much (money) does she earn? She earns a lot of money. You can also use plenty (of). These phrases can also be used in questions and negative sentences.
A lot of / lots of is still felt to be Informal, especially in BrE, so in formal writing it is better to use much, a great deal of or a large amount of.
Very much and a lot can be used as adverbs: I miss my family very much. I miss very much my family. I miss my family a lot. Thanks a lot. In negative sentences you can use much: I didn’t enjoy the film (very) much.

3. FEW
Determiner, adjective (fewer, fewest)
1. Used with plural nouns and a plural verb to mean ‘not many’: Few people understand the difference. There seem to be fewer tourists around this year. Very few students learn Latin now.
2. (Usually a few) used with plural nouns and a plural verb to mean ‘a small number’, ‘some’: We’ve had a few replies. I need a few things from the store. Quite a few people are going to arrive early. I try to visit my parents every few weeks.

Few and far between: not frequent; not happening often
1. Not many people, things or places: Very few of his books are worth reading. You can pass with as few as 25 points. (Formal) Few will argue with this conclusion.
2. A few, a small number of people, things or places; some: I recognized a few of the other people. I’ve seen most of his movies. Only a few are as good as his first one. Could you give me a few more details?
3. Fewer not as many as: Fewer than 20 students passed all the exams. There are no fewer than 100 different species in the area.
4. The few used with a plural verb to mean ‘a small group of people’: Real power belongs to the few. She was one of the chosen few (= the small group with special rights).
Quite a few (BrE also a good few): a fairly large number: I’ve been there quite a few times.
Have had a few: (Informal) to have had enough alcohol to make you drunk.

Adjective [usually before noun]
The forms: littler and littlest are rare. It is more common to use smaller and smallest.
1. Not big; small; smaller than others: a little house a little group of tourists a little old lady the classic little black dress ‘Which do you want?’ ‘I’ll take the little one.’ She gave a little laugh. (BrE) We should manage, with a little bit of luck. Here’s a little something (= a small present) for your birthday.
2. Used after an adjective to show affection or dislike, especially in a patronizing way (= one that suggests that you think you are better than sb): The poor little thing! It’s lost its mother. What a nasty little man! She’s a good little worker. He’d become quite the little gentleman.
3. Young: a little boy / girl, my little brother / sister (= younger brother / sister) I lived in America when I was little.
4. (Of distance or time) short: A little while later the phone rang. Shall we walk a little way?
5. Not important; not serious: I can’t remember every little detail. You soon get used to the little difficulties.

A little bird told me (Informal) used to say that sb told you sth but you do not want to say who it was.
1. Used with uncountable nouns to mean ‘not much’: There was little doubt in my mind. Students have little or no choice in the matter. I understood little of what he said. She said little or nothing (= hardly anything) about her experience. Tell him as little as possible.
2. A little used with uncountable nouns to mean ‘a small amount’, ‘some’: a little milk / sugar / tea If you have any spare milk, could you give me a little? I’ve only read a little of the book so far. (Formal) It caused not a little / no little (= a lot of) confusion. After a little (= a short time) he got up and left.
Little by little: slowly: gradually: Little by little the snow disappeared. His English is improving little by little.
Adverb (less, least)
1. Not much: only slightly: He is little known as an artist. I slept very little last night. Little did I know that this spelled the end of my career.
2. A little (bit) to a small degree: She seemed a little afraid of going inside. These shoes are a little (bit) too big for me. (Informal) Everything has become just that little bit harder. (Formal) She felt tired and more than a little worried.

5. A BIT
1. A bit [sing.] (Used as an adverb) (Especially BrE) rather. SYN a little: These trousers are a bit tight. ‘Are you tired?’ ‘Yes, I am a bit.’ It costs a bit more than I wanted to spend. I can lend you fifty pounds, if you want. That should help a bit.
2. A bit [sing.] (Especially BrE) a short time or distance: Wait a bit! Can you move up a bit? Greg thought for a bit before answering.
3. [C] bit of sth (especially BrE) a small amount or piece of sth: some useful bits of Information with a bit of luck, we’ll be there by 12. I’ve got a bit of shopping to do. A bit of cake/ bits of grass / paper
4. [C] (especially BrE) a part of sth larger: The best bit of the holiday was seeing the Grand Canyon. The school play was a huge success—the audience roared with laughter at all the funny bits.
5. [Sing.] a (of sth) (Informal, especially BrE) a large amount: ‘How much does he earn?’ ‘Quite a bit!’ The new system will take a bit of getting used to (= it will take a long time to get used to).

The (whole) … bit: (Informal, disapproving) behaviour or ideas that are typical of a particular group, type of person or activity: She couldn’t accept the whole drug-culture bit.
Bit by bit: a piece at a time: gradually: He assembled the model aircraft bit by bit. Bit by bit memories of the night came back to me.
A bit much: (Informal) not fair or not reasonable: It’s a bit much calling me at three in the morning.
A bit of a …: (Informal, especially BrE) used when talking about unpleasant or negative things or ideas, to mean ‘rather a …’ we may have a bit of a problem on our hands. The rail strike is a bit of a pain.
A bit on the side: (BrE, slang) the boyfriend or girlfriend of sb who is already married or in a steady sexual relationship with sb else
Bits and pieces/ bobs: (BrE, Informal) small objects or items of various kinds: She stuffed all her bits and pieces into a bag and left.
Do your bit: (Informal) to do your share of a task: We can finish this job on time if everyone does their bit.
Every bit as good, bad, etc. (as sb/sth): just as good, bad, etc.; equally good, bad, etc.: Rome is every bit as beautiful as Paris.
Get the bit between your teeth: (Informal) to become very enthusiastic about sth that you have started to do so that you are unlikely to stop until you have finished
Not a bit/ not one (little) bit: not at all; not in any way: ‘Are you cold?’ ‘Not a bit.’ It’s not a bit of use (= there’s no point in) complaining. I don’t like that idea one bit.
Not a bit of it: (Informal, BrE) used for saying that sth that you had expected to happen did not happen: You’d think she’d be tired after the journey but not a bit of it!
A bit / a little
In BrE it is common to use a bit to mean ‘slightly’ or ‘to a small extent’: These shoes are a bit tight. I’ll be a bit later home tomorrow. Can you turn the volume up a bit?
It is more common in NAmE to say a little, or (Informal) a little bit. You can also use these phrases in BrE: These shoes are a little bit too tight. I’ll be a little later home tomorrow. Can you turn the volume up a little bit?

A lot (also informal lots) lot (to do) a large number or amount: ‘How many do you need?’ ‘A lot.’ Have some more cake. There’s a lot left. She still has an awful lot (= a very large amount) to learn. He has invited nearly a hundred people but a lot aren’t able to come.
Determiner: A lot of (also informal lots of) a large number or amount of sb/sth: What a lot of presents! A lot of people are coming to the meeting. Black coffee with lots of sugar. I saw a lot of her (= I saw her often) last summer.
1. A lot (also Informal lots) used with adjectives and adverbs to mean ‘much’: I’m feeling a lot better today. I eat lots less than I used to.
2. A lot used with verbs to mean ‘a great amount’: I care a lot about you. Thanks a lot for your help. I play tennis quite a lot (= often) in the summer.
1. The lot, the whole lot [sing. + sing. /Pl. v.] (Informal) the whole number or amount of people or things: He’s bought a new PC, colour printer, scanner—the lot. Get out of my house, the lot of you! That’s the lot! (= That includes everything) That’s your lot! (= That’s all you’re getting)
2. [C+ sing. /pl. v.] (Especially BrE) a group or set of people or things: The first lot of visitors has / have arrived. I have several lots of essays to mark this weekend. (Informal) What do you lot want?

All over the lot: (NAmE) = all over the place at place noun
A bad lot: (old-fashioned, BrE) a person who is dishonest
By lot: using a method of choosing sb to do sth in which each person takes a piece of paper, etc. from a container and the one whose paper has a special mark is chosen
Draw / cast lots (for sth / to do sth): to choose sb/sth by lot: They drew lots for the right to go first.
Fall to sb’s lot (to do sth): (formal) to become sb’s task or responsibility
Throw in your lot with sb: to decide to join sb and share their successes and problems.

Adjective (superlative of good)
1. Of the most excellent type or quality: That’s the best movie I’ve ever seen! She was one of the best tennis players of her generation. Is that your best suit? They’ve been best friends (= closest friends) since they were children. The company’s best-ever results. We want the kids to have the best possible education.
2. Most enjoyable, happiest: Those were the best years of my life.
3. Most suitable or appropriate: What’s the best way to cook steak? The best thing to do would be to apologize. He’s the best man for the job. It’s best if you go now. I’m not in the best position to advise you.

1. Most; to the greatest extent: Which one do you like best? Well-drained soil suits the plant best. Her best-known poem
2. In the most excellent way, to the highest standard: He works best in the mornings. Britain’s best-dressed woman. The beaches are beautiful, but, best of all, there are very few tourists.
3. In the most suitable or appropriate way: Painting is best done in daylight. Do as you think best (= what you think is the most suitable thing to do).
As best you can: not perfectly but as well as you are able: We’ll manage as best we can.
1. The most excellent thing or person: We all want the best for our children. They only buy the best. They’re all good players, but she’s the best of all. We’re the best of friends (= very close friends).
2. The highest standard that sb/sth can reach: She always brings out the best in people. The town looks its best (= is most attractive) in the spring. Don’t worry about the exam—just do your best. The roses are past their best now. I don’t really feel at my best today.
3. Something that is as close as possible to what you need or want: Fifty pounds is the best I can offer you. The best we can hope for in the game is a draw.
4. The highest standard that a particular person has reached, especially in a sport: She won the race with a personal best of 2 minutes 22.
All the best: (Informal) used when you are saying goodbye to sb or ending a letter, to give sb your good wishes
At best: used for saying what is the best opinion you can have of sb/sth, or the best thing that can happen, when the situation is bad: Their response to the proposal was, at best, cool. We can’t arrive before Friday at best.
Be (all) for the best: used to say that although sth appears bad or unpleasant now, it will be good in the end: I don’t want you to leave, but perhaps it’s for the best.
The best of a bad bunch (BrE also the best of a bad lot): (Informal) a person or thing that is a little better than the rest of a group, although none is very good.
The best of three, five, etc.: (especially in games and sports) up to three, five, etc. games played to decide who wins, the winner being the person who wins most of them
The best that money can buy: the very best: We make sure our clients get the best that money can buy.
Do, mean, etc. sth for the best: to do or say sth in order to achieve a good result or to help sb: I just don’t know what to do for the best. I’m sorry if my advice offended you—I meant it for the best.
Have/ get the best of sth: to gain more advantage from sth than sb else: I thought you had the best of that discussion.
Make the best of sth/ it | make the best of things/ make the best of a bad job: to accept a bad or difficult situation and do as well as you can.
To the best of your knowledge / belief: As far as you know: He never made a will, to the best of my knowledge.
With the best (of them): as well as anyone: He’ll be out there, dancing with the best of them.

8. ANY
1. Used with uncountable or plural nouns in negative sentences and questions, after if or whether, and after some verbs such as prevent, ban, forbid, etc. to refer to an amount or a number of sth, however large or small: I didn’t eat any meat. Are there any stamps? I’ve got hardly any money. You can’t go out without any shoes. He forbids any talking in class. She asked if we had any questions.
In positive sentences some is usually used instead of any: I’ve got some paper if you want it. It is also used in questions that expect a positive answer: Would you like some milk in your tea?
2. Used with singular countable nouns to refer to one of a number of things or people, when it does not matter which one: Take any book you like. Any colour will do. Any teacher will tell you that students learn at different rates.
3. Not just: used to show that sb/sth is special: It isn’t just any day—it’s my birthday!
1. Used in negative sentences and in questions and after if or whether to refer to an amount or a number, however large or small: We need some more paint; there isn’t any left. I need some stamps. Are there any in your bag? Please let me know how many are coming, if any. She spent hardly any of the money. He returned home without any of the others.
In positive sentences some is usually used instead of any. It is also used in questions that expect a positive reply: I’ve got plenty of paper—would you like some?
2. One or more of a number of people or things, especially when it does not matter which: I’ll take any you don’t want. ‘Which colour do you want?’ ‘Any of them will do.’

Sb isn’t having any (of it): (Informal) somebody is not interested or does not agree: I suggested sharing the cost, but he wasn’t having any of it.
1. Used to emphasize an adjective or adverb in negative sentences or questions, meaning ‘at all’: He wasn’t any good at French. I can’t run any faster. Is your father feeling any better? I don’t want any more. If you don’t tell them, nobody will be any the wiser.
2. (NAmE, Informal) used at the end of a negative sentence to mean ‘at all’: That won’t hurt you any.

1. Used with uncountable nouns or plural countable nouns to mean ‘an amount of’ or ‘a number of’, when the amount or number is not given: There’s still some wine in the bottle. Have some more vegetables.
In negative sentences and questions any is usually used instead of ‘some’: I don’t want any more vegetables. Is there any wine left? However, some is used in questions that expect a positive reply: Would you like some milk in your coffee? Didn’t you borrow some books of mine?
2. Used to refer to certain members of a group or certain types of a thing, but not all of them: Some people find this more difficult than others. I like some modern music (= but not all of it).
3. A large number or amount of sth: It was with some surprise that I heard the news. We’ve known each other for some years now. We’re going to be working together for some time (= a long time).
4. A small amount or number of sth: There is some hope that things will improve.
5. Used with singular nouns to refer to a person, place, thing or time that is not known or not identified: There must be some mistake. He’s in some kind of trouble. She won a competition in some newspaper or other. I’ll see you again some time, I’m sure.
6. (Informal, sometimes ironic) used to express a positive or negative opinion about sb/sth: That was some party! Some expert you are! You know even less than me.
1. Used to refer to an amount of sth or a number of people or things when the amount or number is not given: Some disapprove of the idea. You’ll find some in the drawer. Here are some of our suggestions.
In negative sentences and questions any is usually used instead of ‘some’: I don’t want any. Do you have any of the larger ones? However, some is used in questions that expect a positive reply: Would you like some? Weren’t you looking for some of those?
2. A part of the whole number or amount being considered: All these students are good, but some work harder than others. Some of the music was weird.

… And then some: (Informal) and a lot more than that: We got our money’s worth and then some.
1. Used before numbers to mean ‘approximately’: Some thirty people attended the funeral.
2. (NAmE, Informal) to some degree: He needs feeding up some. ‘Are you finding the work any easier?’ ‘Some.’

10. EACH
Used to refer to every one of two or more people or things, when you are thinking about them separately: Each answer is worth 20 points. Each of the answers is worth 20 points. The answers are worth 20 points each. ‘Red or blue?’ ‘I’ll take one of each, please.’ We each have our own car. There aren’t enough books for everyone to have one each. They lost $40 each. Each day that passed he grew more and more desperate.
Each / every
Each is used in front of a singular noun and is followed by a singular verb: Each student has been given his or her own email address. The use of his or her sometimes sounds slightly formal and it is becoming more common to use the plural pronoun their: Each student has been given their own email address.
When each is used after a plural subject, it has a plural verb: They each have their own email address.
Every: is always followed by a singular verb: Every student in the class is capable of passing the exam.
Each of, each one of and every one of are followed by a plural noun or pronoun, but the verb is usually singular: Each (one) of the houses was slightly different. I bought a dozen eggs and every one of them was bad. A plural verb is more Informal.

1. Used with singular nouns to refer to all the members of a group of things or people: She knows every student in the school. I could hear every word they said. We enjoyed every minute of our stay. Every day seemed the same to him. Every single time he calls, I’m out. I read every last article in the newspaper (= all of them). They were watching her every movement. Every one of their CDs has been a hit.
2. All possible: We wish you every success. He had every reason to be angry.
3. Used to say how often sth happens or is done: The buses go every 10 minutes. We had to stop every few miles. One in every three marriages ends in divorce. He has every third day off (= he works for two days then has one day off then works for two days and so on). We see each other every now and again. Every now and then he regretted his decision.
Every other: each alternate one (= the first, third, fifth, etc. one, but not the second, fourth, sixth, etc.): They visit us every other week.

12. BOTH
1. Used with plural nouns to mean ‘the two’ or ‘the one as well as the other’: Both women were French. Both the women were French. Both of the women were French. I talked to the women. Both of them were French / they were both French. I liked them both. We were both tired. Both of us were tired. We have both seen the movie. I have two sisters. Both of them live in London / they both live in London. Both (my) sisters live in London.
2. Both … and … not only … but also …: Both his mother and his father will be there. For this job you will need a good knowledge of both Italian and Spanish.

More than two but not very many: Several letters arrived this morning. He’s written several books about India. Several more people than usual came to the meeting. If you’re looking for a photo of Alice you’ll find several in here. Several of the paintings were destroyed in the fire.
Adjective: (formal) separate: They said goodbye and went their several ways.

14. ALL
1. (Used with plural nouns. The noun may have the, this, that, my, her, his, etc. in front of it, or a number.) The whole number of: All horses are animals, but not all animals are horses. Cars were coming from all directions (= every direction). All the people you invited are coming. All my plants have died. All five men are hard workers.
2. (Used with uncountable nouns. The noun may have the, this, that, my, her, his, etc. in front of it.) The whole amount of: All wood tends to shrink. You’ve had all the fun and I’ve had all the hard work. All this mail must be answered. He has lost all his money.
3. Used with singular nouns showing sth has been happening for a whole period of time: He’s worked hard all year. She was unemployed for all that time.
4. The greatest possible: In all honesty (= being as honest as I can), I can’t agree.
5. Consisting or appearing to consist of one thing only: The magazine was all advertisements. She was all smiles (= smiling a lot).
6. Any whatever: He denied all knowledge of the crime.

And all that (jazz, rubbish, etc.): (Informal) and other similar things: I’m bored by history—dates and battles and all that stuff.
Not all that good, well, etc.: not particularly good, well, etc.: He doesn’t sing all that well.
Not as bad (ly), etc. as all that: not as much as has been suggested: They’re not as rich as all that.
Of all people, things, etc. (Informal) used to express surprise because sb/sth seems the least likely person, example, etc.: I didn’t think you, of all people, would become a vegetarian.
Of all the …: (Informal) used to express anger: I’ve locked myself out. Of all the stupid things to do!
1. The whole number or amount: All of the food has gone. They’ve eaten all of it. They’ve eaten it all. I invited some of my colleagues but not all. Not all of them were invited. All of them enjoyed the party. They all enjoyed it. His last movie was best of all.
2. (Followed by a relative clause, often without that) the only thing; everything: All I want is peace and quiet. It was all that I had.
All in all: when everything is considered: All in all it had been a great success.
All in one: having two or more uses, functions, etc.: It’s a corkscrew and bottle-opener all in one.
And all
1. Also; included; in addition: She jumped into the river, clothes and all (= with her clothes on).
2. (Informal) as well; too: ‘I’m freezing.’ ‘Yeah, me and all.’
(Not) at all: in any way: to any degree: I didn’t enjoy it at all.
In all: as a total. SYN altogether: There were twelve of us in all for dinner. That’s £25.40 in all.
Not at all: used as a polite reply to an expression of thanks: ‘Thanks very much for your help.’ ‘Not at all, it was a pleasure.’
Your all: everything you have: They gave their all (= fought and died) in the war.
1. Completely: She was dressed all in white. He lives all alone. The coffee went all over my skirt.
2. (Informal) very: She was all excited. Now don’t get all upset about it.
3. All too … used to show that sth is more than you would like: I’m all too aware of the problems. The end of the trip came all too soon.
4. (In sports and games) to each side: The score was four all.
All along: All the time, from the beginning: I realized it was in my pocket all along.
All the better, harder, etc.: so much better, harder, etc.: We’ll have to work all the harder with two people off sick.
All but
1. Almost: The party was all but over when we arrived. It was all but impossible to read his writing.
2. Everything or everyone except sth/sb: All but one of the plates were damaged.
All in
1. Physically tired. SYN exhausted: At the end of the race he felt all in.
2. (BrE) including everything: The holiday cost £250 all in.
All of sth: (often ironic) used to emphasize an amount, a size, etc. usually when it is very small: It must be all of 100 metres to the car!
All there: (Informal) having a healthy mind, thinking clearly: He behaves very oddly at times—I don’t think he’s quite all there.
Be all about sb/sth: used to say what the most important aspect of sth is: It’s all about money these days.
Be all for sth / for doing sth: to believe strongly that sth should be done: They’re all for saving money where they can.
Be all over sb: (Informal) to show a lot of affection for or enthusiasm about sb: He was all over her at the party.
Be all that: (US, Informal) to be very attractive or impressive: He thinks he’s all that.
Be all up (with sb): (old-fashioned, Informal) to be the end for sb: It looks as though it’s all up with us now (= we are ruined, have no further chances, etc.)

Plenty (of sth) a large amount; as much or as many as you need: plenty of eggs / money / time: ‘Do we need more milk?’ ‘No, there’s plenty in the fridge.’ They always gave us plenty to eat. We had plenty to talk about.
1. Plenty more (of) (sth) a lot: We have plenty more of them in the warehouse. There’s plenty more paper if you need it.
2. Plenty big, long, etc. enough (to do sth) (Informal) more than big, long, etc. enough: The rope was plenty long enough to reach the ground.
3. (NAmE) a lot, very: We talked plenty about our kids. You can be married and still be plenty lonely.
(NAmE or Informal) a lot of: There’s plenty room for all of you!

1. [Sing. + sing. /pl. v.] Couple (of sth) two people or things: I saw a couple of men get out.
2. [Sing. + sing. /pl. v.] Couple (of sth) a small number of people or things. SYN a few: a couple of minutes. We went there a couple of years ago. I’ve seen her a couple of times before. I’ll be with you in a minute. There are a couple of things I have to do first. There are a couple more files to read first. We can do it in the next couple of weeks. The last couple of years have been difficult.

Not quite; SYN nearly: I like almost all of them. It’s a mistake they almost always make. The story is almost certainly false. It’s almost time to go. Dinner’s almost ready. He slipped and almost fell. Their house is almost opposite ours. They’ll eat almost anything. Almost no one (= hardly anyone) believed him.

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