quantifier floating

examples of quantifier floating

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Quantifier floating

The quantifiers all, both, and each can occur in more than one position in a sentence. The rule that states the alternative positions that quantifiers can have is called QUANTIFIER FLOATING.

The possible positions if the verb is be are shown in 5). Looking closely, you will see that the quantifier all, which is part of the subject NP all of my relatives in 5a), can move to a position after the noun when of  is deleted, as in 5b), or after the verb, as is the case in 5c).

  • 5a)  All of my relatives are farmers.
  • 5b)  My relatives all are farmers.
  • 5c)  My relatives are all farmers.

In 5d), all is part of the NP all of my friends, which is the subject of the complement in square brackets. Notice that here all can move to a position where it splits the nonfinite (infinitive) form to be, as in 5f), but it cannot move over the infinitive, as shown in 5g).

  • 5d)  I want [all of my friends to be at the airport].
  • 5e)  I want my friends all to be at the airport.
  • 5f)  I want my friends to all be at the airport.
  • 5g)  I want my friends to be all at the airport.

In sentences with other verbs, the quantifier cannot move over the verb, as 6c) demonstrates. The restriction against moving across nonfinite verb forms holds for all verbs, as 6e) shows.

  • 6a)  All of the boys waved at the girls.
  • 6b)  The boys all waved at the girls.
  • 6c)  The boys waved all at the girls.
  • 6d)  Your mother wants [all of her sons to go to college].
  • 6e)  Your mother wants [her sons to go all to college].

The quantifier each can also be floated rightward. When it appears after the subject NP, as in 7b), the verb agrees in number with the subject rather than with each, as in 7a).

  • 7a)  Each of the boys / Each boy owns a motorcycle.
  • 7b)  The boys each own a motorcycle.

With each, but not all and both, quantifier floating can apply to NPs other than subject NPs. In 8a) each is part of an indirect object NP, whose head noun is children. Quantifier floating can move each to follow this NP, as is the case in 8b), or to follow the direct object, a dollar, as shown in 8c).

  • 8a)  Uncle Harold gave each of the children a dollar.
  • 8b)  Uncle Harold gave the children each a dollar.
  • 8c)  Uncle Harold gave the children a dollar each.

Each can be moved from a subject NP to a position behind an NP that expresses quantity after stative verbs such as cost, measure, and weigh, particularly as shown in 9c).

  • 9a)  Each of the new wide-body jets will cost $2 million.
  • 9b)  The new wide-body jets will each cost $ 2 million.
  • 9c)  The new wide-body jets will cost $2 million each.

Quantifiers other than all, both, and each cannot be moved by quantifier floating, as 11 illustrates.

  • 11a)  Some of the guests made speeches.
  • 11b)  The guests some made speeches.
  • 11c)  Most of the guests are diplomats.
  • 11d)  The guests are most diplomats.