No shortage of phrases (The language of large amounts or numbers, Part 2)

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a woman moving boxes in a large warehouse filled with tall shelves of boxes
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by Kate Woodford

Today’s offering is Part 2 of a post looking at the language of large numbers or amounts of things. Part 1 focused on adjectives and verbs, so this post looks at nouns and phrases in this area.

There are a few nouns meaning ‘a lot of’, with subtle differences between some of them. For example, ‘arrayis usually used to refer to a lot of similar things. This noun is often emphasized with adjectives such as bewildering, dazzling, dizzying and vast:

There’s a bewildering array of products to choose from.

They offer a truly dizzying array of dishes.

Myriad, plethora and multitude are all rather formal nouns for a large number of something. ‘Plethora’ is often used when there is more of something than you need:

The bags come in a myriad of colours.

A multitude of factors can affect the situation.

There’s a plethora of self-help books out there.

There are informal nouns with this meaning too, for example tons, scores, reams (often referring to writing), and in UK English, shedloads. (‘Shedloads’ often refers to money.):

There are tons of things you can do to help.

He’d already done scores of interviews.

The process involved reams of paperwork.

She made shedloads of cash.

Another informal noun, used mainly in US English – slew – is often used for lots of bad or inconvenient things:

The company now faces a slew of lawsuits.

Moving on to phrases, you can say that there’s a lot of something by saying that there’s no shortage of it:

There’ll be no shortage of applicants for the job, that’s for sure.

You can make the same point by using the phrase any number of things:

There’s any number of recipes for this popular dish.

Requests can be denied for any number of reasons.

To emphasize how big a number is, you might say as many/much as…:

On the weekend, we serve as many as five hundred customers.

Properties like these have already decreased in value by as much as $40,000.

Another way of emphasizing a large number or amount is the phrase no fewer than/no less than:

The event was attended by no fewer than three thousand people.

Profits have risen by no less than 60% in the last two years.

You can also use the phrase to the tune of before a number or amount to say how surprisingly big it is:

Taxpayers are already subsidizing the venture to the tune of hundreds of millions a year.

Finally, in UK English, if you are spoilt for choice, you can choose from very many different options:

These days, there are so many vegan options, you’re spoilt for choice.

That concludes my 2-part post on this subject. When you next need to describe a large amount or number of things, I hope you’ll be spoilt for choice!


16 thoughts on “No shortage of phrases (The language of large amounts or numbers, Part 2)

  1. Miguel Angel Alonso

    No shortage of cool English expressions? I’m in. Thanks so much, this was pretty interesting.

  2. there’s any number of recipes for this popular dish.
    there ARE any number of recipes…
    which is preferred?

    I like to hear the author’s reading, thanks.

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