A quantifier is a determiner that expresses a referent's definite or indefinite number or amount. A quantifier functions as a modifier of a noun, or a pronoun. [Crystal 1997: 317]
The current hierarchical organization of Numeral as compared to Determiner is problematic:
- Numeral is-a Quantifier (this is correct with respect to the semantic characteristics of Quantifiers and Numerals)
- Quantifier is-a Determiner (this is correct with respect to the *syntactic* characteristics of quantifying determiners)
However, in the following sentences, "three" is hardly a Determiner, but rather, the head of an NP. According to its semantics, however, it is clearly a Numeral:
(1) There were *three* of them.
(2) Wir sind die *drei* von der Tankstelle. (German)
we are the *three* from the gas.station
One may consider to promote Quantifier to a top-level category in order to distangle semantically-determined parts of speech (e.g., quantifier, numeral) from syntactically-determined parts of speech (e.g., determiner).
References:In existing annotation schemes for parts of speech, there normally is no category "Quantifier", but rather, Quantifiers are grouped together with "indefinite determiner" (for quantifying determiners, e.g., "some", "any") or "indefinite pronouns" (for [pro]nominal quantifiers, e.g., "someone", "anybody"), cf. Wilson and Leech (1996, www.ilc.cnr.it/EAGLES/pub/eagles/lexicons/elm_en.ps.gz). An explicit Quantifier concept entails the above-mentioned problems.