Lesson Transcript

Hi, everybody! My name is Alisha. In this lesson, I'm going to talk about how to describe large amounts in English. Let's get started!
Okay, for this lesson, there are a couple of points that I want to remind everyone about; first is the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. In this lesson, most of the expressions I'm going to talk about can be used for either countable or uncountable nouns, but some of the expressions, we'll need to be careful about, so I've marked those with a star. I'll come to these near the end of the lesson, but if you want to know more about countable and uncountable nouns, please take a look at the videos we have on the EnglishClass101 Channel.
Okay, with that in mind, let's get started.
First, I want to talk about these very, very commonly used expressions; a lot of and lots of. A lot of and lots of, they have the same meaning. They communicate the same idea. You can choose whichever one you prefer. We can use a lot of and lots of with countable and uncountable nouns. Remember, countable nouns take an S to make the plural form. Uncountable nouns are not used in this way to create the plural form. For example, uncountable nouns are words like money, air, time, beer, wine. We can't count these individually. We use counter words for those.
So, we can use a lot of and lots of with both countable and uncountable nouns.
For example…
"She won a lot of money in Las Vegas."
Money is an uncountable noun. I've used it with a lot of here. You can use this with... rather with a countable noun too.
"You have lots of friends."
You have lots of friends. So, reminder, when you are using a countable noun, you need to use the plural form of the noun, in this case, friends. You have lots of friends… don't forget that S.
I could swap these, if I wanted to. "She won lots of money in Las Vegas" is fine, or "you have a lot of friends," also fine. These mean exactly the same thing. You can choose which you prefer. There's no difference in nuance, no difference in meaning, just whichever you prefer. They mean the same thing.
Let's look at then the next pair, a ton of and tons of. Again, just like a lot of and lots of, these mean the same thing. The difference between these is the level. So, if we imagine on a scale, a lot of is maybe here, tons of is here. It's a lot more. It's a lot more, so tons of or a ton of is a lot more than lots of or a lot of. So on a scale, tons of is here, a lot of or lots of is down here. So, this is for when we want to express a much higher amount of something. So, if you need a hint, you can use ton. Ton is a measurement, a measurement, a very large measurement. So, remember that ton refers to very, very big, heavy things.
Some examples…
"We have a ton of work to do."
We have a ton of work to do. Work is an uncountable noun, no S.
"We have a ton of work to do."
"They have tons of pets."
They have tons of pets. Pets is a countable noun. We need to use the plural form, pets, here. Again, I could swap these if I wanted to.
"We have tons of work to do" is okay and "they have a ton of pets" is also okay.
So again, this pair and this pair follow the same rule. You can choose whichever one you prefer.
Okay, let's continue on to this next group. There are actually three here, because I feel that these expressions are all about the same level. So, we have a lot of, a ton of or tons of, and then a bunch of or bunches of or plenty of. For some people, it might come… this one might come between tons of and a lot of. For some people, it might be a little bit further down. It's kind of you have to feel for yourself what this means. I like to imagine this expression, bunches of or a bunch of, like a bunch of flowers. We use the expression a bunch of flowers to talk about a bouquet of flowers like that group of flowers we give as a present. So we can imagine there are many, there are lots of flowers inside a bunch. So, in my mind, I imagine like a bunch of, kind of, that's sort of the image I have in terms of quantity like how many flowers are in a bunch of flowers. That might be helpful for you. Plenty of sounds like a lot of something and it's like there's a relaxed feeling about that.
So let's look at some example sentences that use these.
"Bunches of money were stolen from the store."
Bunches of money were stolen from the store. So money is my uncountable noun. I've used bunches here.
To compare this with a countable noun…
"A bunch of my co-workers went out for a drink."
A bunch of my co-workers went out for a drink. So this means a lot of people or maybe a group of people that had many people in it went out for a drink. So, the idea here is that there's some kind of group, I feel. That's kind of the image of a bunch.
So, plenty also has this feeling of a lot of something, yes, but there's also kind of this relaxed casual feel. We tend to use bunch and bunches when there's a little bit of a casual feel too. You will often hear plenty of in this expression...
"We have plenty of time."
We have plenty of time. You might hear lots of time too. We have lots of time. Plenty of time sounds like don't worry, it's nothing to worry about, we have a lot of time to do this thing we need to do. There's plenty of time. That's often the voice that's used. So it has this idea behind it of like relaxation or being able to do something at an easy pace. We have plenty of time. So, we do not have this form for plenty of, but again, we can use this with countable or uncountable nouns.
Okay, so let's move along, then, to the next part. As I said, this next part will include some differences, some important differences between countable and uncountable nouns. The difference is in these words here actually.
First, I have this pair, a large amount of and a large number of something. So when should we use these? This word, amount, we use this when we're talking about uncountable nouns, a large amount of uncountable noun. We use number for countable nouns, a large number of countable nouns. So this is the difference between these two.
Let's take a look at some examples.
"A large amount of the population got sick."
A large amount of the population got sick. So here, we're talking about a population. We're not talking about like one person, we're talking about the whole population of a city, so an entire group of people. So we use amount to do that, a large amount of the population got sick.
We can compare this to…
"A large number of students improved."
A large number of students improved. So here, I've used number because students is my countable noun in the plural form, a large number of students improved. So please keep this difference in mind.
We'll see the same thing down here, a huge amount of... or a huge number of… follows this same pattern. The difference here is in this word huge vs. large. So large means big. So, we don't say big really, in this case. We use large and it tends to sound a little more formal. These sound a bit more formal than these do. These expressions are fairly casual. Here however, huge means very, very, very, very big. So, for like an animal, it would be an elephant is very big. That's a huge animal. Maybe a large animal would be a horse, for example. A huge animal is an elephant. So, that's the difference in size here, so when you're thinking about concepts, you can kind of use that as like the guideline for your vocabulary decision making. So we follow the same uncountable, countable rule here. A huge amount of count…, sorry uncountable nouns and a huge number of countable nouns.
"There was a huge amount of interest in our project."
So, interest is uncountable. We don't say one interest, two interests. There was a huge amount of interest, uncountable noun, in our project.
On the other hand…
"A hu.ge number of illnesses are treatable illnesses."
So illness means a sickness, a type of disease. A huge number of illnesses are treatable, so here the plural form, illnesses, shows it's the plural of the countable noun illness, illness. A huge number of illnesses are treatable, able to be treated or cured.
Finally then is this word several, several. This is special because several is used only for countable nouns, only for countable nouns. We do not use several with uncountable nouns. So several is more than just two or three or four. I think a good hint is here, several sounds like seven, but it doesn't mean seven, it means like a good number of ideas in this case, or a good number of something. So, it's not a small amount but it's not quite a lot either. It's kind of near the middle, the bottom middle of a scale.
So in this case…
"She has several ideas."
Again, countable nouns so we need to use the plural form here. She has several ideas. So, this is only for countable nouns, please be careful with that.
Okay, so this is an introduction to some common expressions we use to talk about large amounts. So I hope that this was helpful for you. Again, if you want to know more about countable and uncountable nouns, please search the EnglishClass101 Channel for some information, for some videos about those topics. Of course, if you have any questions or comments or if you want to practice making sentences with any of these points, please feel free to do so in the comment section of this video. Thanks very much for watching this lesson and I will see you again soon. Bye-bye!