The words MUCH, MANY, and A LOT (LOTS) show there is a large amount of something. Much is used with uncountable nouns. (smoke, water, money, etc.) Many is used with plural countable nouns. (cars, sunglasses, people, etc.) A lot (Lots) can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.
|Used with nouns we cannot count.||Used with the plural forms of countable nouns.||Can be used with both kinds of nouns.|
|I have too much homework.||There are many people here.||I have a lot of homework. /There are lots of people here.|
MUCH, MANY, and A LOT
This blog post will help you understand this grammar with images and lots of examples. Also, improve your listening and pronunciation skills with the MUCH vs. MANY video at the end of the post. Soon you’ll be sounding just like a native speaker!
- MUCH rules and examples
- MANY rules and examples
- A LOT OF (LOTS OF) – rules and examples
- Countable Vs. Uncountable (Groups Vs. Items)
- Too much – Too many
- So much – So many
- Bonus #1 – Quiz
- Bonus #2 – PDF Download
- Bonus #3 – Much Many and A Lot infographic
MUCH is used with nouns we cannot count. Words like smoke, water, money, help.
- There is too much smoke in this restaurant.
MUCH is most often used in negative sentences. Too much or not much of something.
Saying “I have
much money.” is not natural.
- I drank too much beer last night at the party!
- Kyle would like to travel more, but he doesn’t have much money.
- Sorry, I’m not much help.
MANY is used with the plural forms of nouns we can count. Words like: cars, sunglasses, people
- There are many people on this train.
- There are too many cars on the road. Public transportation is better for the environment.
- I have many apps on my iPhone.
*Apps is the plural form of the countable noun ‘app.’ It’s short for a software application.
A LOT (of)
Lot also shows a large amount of something. A LOT and LOTS have the same meaning, they are usually followed by OF, and they can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.
- He has lots of money. (Money is an uncountable noun)
- There are a lot of people on this train (People is the plural form of the countable noun person).
Difference #1. A LOT OF is only telling you the size or amount of something whereas TOO MANY or TOO MUCH has a more negative feeling. It’s more than you need. A LOT doesn’t have this negative feeling.
Difference #2. A LOT is not used with measurements of time or distance. For example, we can say “My school is many kilometers from my house.” But we would never say “My school is
a lot of kilometers from my house.” X
- The captain spent many months away from his family. *Not
a lot of months
Difference #3. As an adverb, A LOT is rarely used in negative sentences. MUCH is better in these sentences.
- Pete lies to people, I don’t like him very much.
Positive sentences are fine.
- Jason is a nice guy, I like him a lot.
Countable Vs. Uncountable
Countable nouns are nouns that we can count, this means that they have a plural form.
Dogs is the plural form of the countable noun dog.
Children is the plural form of the countable noun child.
Uncountable nouns are nouns that we cannot count, they do not have a plural form.
Uncountable noun examples:
Nouns that are liquid
coffee, glue, toothpaste, etc.
- If I drink too much coffee it’s hard to sleep.
*So far, we have used the uncountable noun examples water, beer, and coffee. You can guess that anything we drink is uncountable.
- Can you stop at the drugstore and buy some toothpaste? We don’t have much left.
*Ice cream is not a liquid but we don’t count it. Ice cream is an uncountable noun.
- The restaurant had an all-you-can-eat ice cream bar so I ate
muchice cream. This is incorrect. Using A LOT OF is better in this sentence.
- The restaurant had an all-you-can-eat ice cream bar so I ate A LOT OF ice cream.
Nouns that are gas
smoke, steam, etc.
- Can we have a table in the back? There is not much smoke there.
- I don’t like the sauna at my gym. There is too much steam.
Nouns that are very small and act as a group
sand, rice, etc.
- We’re going to the beach but wear your shoes, the beach is mostly rocks. There is not much sand.
- The beef curry at this restaurant has just a few pieces of meat and too much rice.
Nouns that are categories
music, art, furniture, etc.
- When I was younger, I listened to a lot of music. Now I don’t listen to much music at all.
- My hometown had a very small museum. There was never much art to see there.
Other examples of uncountable nouns that you might hear with MUCH
luck, traffic, bread, hair, money.
- My brother and I went fishing this morning but we didn’t have much luck. I only caught 2 fish and they were quite small.
- I like to get to the office before 7:00. It’s quiet in the morning and there is not much traffic on the roads.
- My aunt makes delicious bread, but I always eat too much.
- When Ian was younger he had a lot of hair but now he doesn’t have very much.
Countable Vs. Uncountable
Groups Vs. Items
Here is a chart with some countable and uncountable word pairs that describe groups (uncountable) and things (countable) are part of that group.
Groups – uncountable
Things in group – countable
- Chair, table, sofa
- Chance, accident
- Car, van, motorcycle
- Dollar, Euro
Too MUCH – Too MANY
The adverb TOO is used to show that the amount of something is more than is good, necessary, possible, etc. This is a negative feeling.
TOO is used before adjectives and adverbs:
We arrived at the hotel 3 hours before check-in. We are TOO early.
- We arrived earlier than necessary. (Early is an adjective)
When TOO is used before much and many it is stressing that amount of the noun that follows it is more than is good, necessary, possible, etc.
I put too much sugar in my coffee this morning. I couldn’t finish it. (The amount of sugar is more than I needed, it had a negative effect on the coffee.)
TOO can be used with both much and many.
There are too many cars on the road.
I wanted to take a walk in the woods but there are too many mosquitoes tonight.
Thanks to Cambridge English.
So MUCH So MANY
Below is a quote from my SO and SUCH blog post (with video)
SO can be used with the determiners much, many, little, and few to make these words stronger. In English grammar, a determiner is a word that comes before a noun to show how the noun is being used.
- Greg has so much responsibility at work. I feel bad for him, he works overtime every day.
The noun responsibility is uncountable.
- There are so many rules at my school.
Rules is a plural countable noun.
MUCH or MANY QUIZ 8 questions – Test your English
MUCH, MANY, and A LOT infographic
MUCH, MANY, and A LOT Conclusion
Remember that MUCH is used with uncountable nouns usually in negative sentences. MANY is used with countable nouns in both positive and negative sentences. A LOT OF can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.
Thanks for reading my post. Use this grammar correctly and sound like a native speaker when you use English.
11-page MUCH, MANY, and A LOT PDF Download (the PDF includes a new quiz!)
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