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Some, Most, and All -What You Should Know About LSAT Quantifiers

"Some", "most" and "all" are used all the time in everyday life, yet they cause issues for a lot of people in the LSAT, particularly when it comes to the Logical Reasoning (LR) section. On the LSAT, these terms have very specific meanings that don't necessarily equate to the way most of us are accustomed to using them. In this post I will demystify the meaning of each of these terms so that they are much more manageable and easier to understand.



 

What is a Quantifier?

Quantifiers are LSAT terms that give you a general sense of percentages without using specific numerals. It typically will give you a broad range of possibilities. For example, 36 is a quantity, not a quantifier, because it is expressing a very specific number. Whereas quantifier words like "some", "most" and "all" do not indicate a specific number. For example, if someone said "Some people at my school enjoy reading", we wouldn't know the exact number from this statement.




 

LSAT Quantifier Strength

It's important to understand that ALL statements on the LSAT will fall under one of three categories: weak, strong, and absolute. There are also two types of strength--strength in quantity and strength in probability. Take a look at the chart below that breaks down the differences. I highly recommend memorizing these terms and understanding the relative strength of each.


Weak (>0%)

Strong (>50%)

Absolute (100%)

Quantity

some, many, often, frequently, sometimes

most, usually, majority, vast majority

all, must, every

Probability

could, may, might

probably, likely, almost certainly

all, must, every


Not every quantifier is listed here, as there are too many to count. For this reason, it's important to understand why each term is designated to its level of strength so that you can identify the strength of any unusual terms.




 

"Some"

Take the following statement...

"Some college students enjoy eating tacos"


Does this necessarily mean all of them do? The answer is no. It could just be 10% of them. What about most (or more than half) of them? Not necessarily, for the same reason. Therefore, "some" is considered weak language, as that is the only remaining option in the chart shown above. Weak language means it can be any amount greater than 0%, so it is very broad. That means even if just one college student is preparing for the LSAT, the original statement holds true. This also means that all of the college students could be preparing for the LSAT, as 100% is greater than 0%. I know that typically we use "some" to imply "but not all" or "a small amount", but this is not necessarily the case on the LSAT unless it is indicated explicitly.



It's also worth noting that "many" and "often" usually have a bit of a different connotation than "some" in everyday life. These terms typically indicate a larger amount than "some". However, this distinction in language rarely ever matters in the LSAT Logical Reasoning section. So when in doubt, just use process of elimination to place the terms in one of the three buckets. If they end up in the same bucket, they have the same meaning. Terms like "several", "a lot", and "often" don't necessarily mean 50% or more, so they all fall under weak language, meaning they essentially are used in the same way as "some".




 

"Most"

Now, suppose we just changed one word from the previous statement we used...

"Most college students enjoy eating tacos"


Does this mean that some college students enjoy eating tacos? The answer in this case is yes, because no matter what, "most" is greater than 50%, meaning it is always greater than 0%. The main takeaway here is that "most" always implies "some", but "some" does not necessarily imply "most". Does our statement in question mean that all college students enjoy eating tacos? Not quite, because greater than 50% does not necessarily mean 100%. So, "most" includes the possibility of "all", but it is not necessarily the same.


Just like "some", if you look at the chart you will notice that there are terms that have slight differences in meaning under the strong category, such as "majority" and "vast majority". But just remember that for all quantifier terms, all that matters is the bucket it falls under. "Vast majority" cannot fall under the absolute category, because it does not necessarily imply 100%. And it also cannot imply "some" because a percentage less than 50%, such as 20%, would not qualify as a vast majority.




 

"All"

Alright, I know I'm getting a little extreme here, but you might have guessed the final example I'm going to use...

"All college students enjoy eating tacos"


We have heard people make blanket, absolute language such as this in everyday life. You probably heard someone say "What?! How can you not like tacos?? EVERYONE likes tacos!"


We often exaggerate in regular conversation to further drive a point home or to make a story more interesting. It's important to understand the LSAT never exaggerates. If they say all college students enjoy eating tacos, they mean it. Take it very literally. Even 99% does not cut it and a single exception would contradict the entire statement.


Another key point to consider is that any conditional language ("any", "all", "every", "must", "only") is considered absolute, assuming it's not used along with other quantifiers. Also, if there are no quantifiers, you can consider the statement to be absolute. For instance, even if the statement was "college students enjoy eating tacos", it would have the same meaning as the original statement.


Now, let's consider the implications. If it were the case that all college students enjoy eating tacos imply that some of them do? Yes, because "all" means 100% and therefore must be greater than 0%. The same applies with "most". So, to simplify things, here is the chain of command...


All -- Most -- Some


Just remember that you can always infer from left to right, but you cannot infer from right to left.



 

Diagramming "Some", "Most", and "All"

Sometimes, you will encounter situations where diagramming can benefit you. For example, you can have passages that have several quantifier statements, from which you will be expected to derive an inference. Take the following passage as an example:


"Some strawberries at this grocery store are safe to eat, and most of the bananas are ripe. Everything safe to eat has been advertised at the front of the store."


That might not seem like a ton of information, but the LSAT will test your ability to clearly understand which quantifiers are used in each statement and can easily mix up the quantifiers to trick you in the answer choices. The best way to avoid this is to diagram. Let's discuss how to diagram each of these statements.


For "some", it goes both ways. Try coming up with your own "some" statement to test it out. If some strawberries at this grocery store are safe to eat, it must also be the case that some things that are safe to eat are strawberries. Therefore, it makes sense to diagram an arrow pointing both ways to show that there is some type of overlap between the two terms, but you still want to indicate that it happens some of the time, not necessarily always. Here is what the diagram would look like:


strawberries at the grocery store <--S--> safe to eat


On the other hand, "most" does not go both ways. Just because most bananas are ripe does not mean most ripe fruit in the store are bananas. What if bananas make up only a tiny sliver of all the fruit that are ripe? Therefore, "most" would be diagrammed like this:


bananas --M--> ripe


The 'M' is important here because it shows that it's not necessarily the case that all bananas are ripe.


Finally, what if we have "all" or "every"? The final statement of the passage provided as an example says "Everything safe to eat has been advertised at the front of the store". Just like with "most", you cannot reverse the direction of the arrow. Just because everything safe to eat has been advertised at the front of the store, does not mean all the advertisements at the front of the store pertain to things safe to eat. It could very well be the case that the store advertisements also include things unsafe to eat. Therefore, we need to diagram the arrow in a single direction:


safe to eat --> advertised at the front of the store



And there you have it! This covers the fundamentals you need to understand for quantifiers. Make sure you are interpreting and diagramming them consistently and accurately.




Stay motivated!


Sincerely,

Cho

Impetus LSAT


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