• A. Gulvin Translation

A Lot of, Lots of, Much and Many

Updated: Jun 25, 2018

When students first start #learningEnglish, one of the common things they do is to misuse or overuse the words #much and #many. It might surprise you to learn that these words are actually used by native speakers fairly infrequently in speaking, and really only in specific circumstances. If you’d like your English to sound more natural, read on… (and if you're on a diet, you many need to skip this post for now. Warning: it contains a lot of sweet stuff!)


So what do we say?


Instead of the words #much and #many, native speakers will use the phrases a lot of or lots of. Apart from sounding much more natural to the ears of a native speaker, the other handy thing about these phrases is that they can be used interchangeably.


For example, you can say…



lots of chocolate, a lot of cream, lots of sugar, a lot of icing (uncountable nouns)

or...

lots of sprinkles, a lot of chocolate chips, lots of cherries, a lot of caramel pieces (plural countable nouns)


The 'much' and 'many' lowdown


So when do we use the words #much and #many? Well first, let’s talk about the choice between the two.


#much is used with uncountable nouns.

#many is used with countable nouns.


In everyday, spoken English, #much and #many are only used in the following, specific circumstances:

  1. questions

  2. negative clauses (anything with a ‘negative’ word in it)

  3. with 'so', 'too' and 'as'


questions



How many chocolate chips did you just put in your mouth when you thought I wasn’t looking? (chocolate chips = countable (though in reality they are actually rather difficult to count…))

How much weight are you going to put on if you eat this cake we’re making? (weight = uncountable (arguably…!))



NEGATIVE CLAUSES



I didn’t put that many chocolate chips in my mouth… (only about forty-five)

I haven’t lost much weight in the last week (because I keep eating chocolate chips.)


'SO', 'TOO' AND 'AS'





So many chocolate chips have jumped into my mouth that I've run out... I’ll have to go to the supermarket.

There is no such thing as too many chocolate chips if you ask me.

You haven’t eaten as much as me. Aren't you hungry? (Nope. You have no idea how many chocolate chips I ate earlier...)


Speaking or writing?


Now don't get me wrong - you will see the words #much and #many used outside the instances listed above, but generally only in written texts. Because a lot of students tend to study primarily from books and written resources, they may be exposed to the use of #much and #many a lot more frequently, giving them the false idea that it is used just as much in spoken English.


So, do you think you have got the hang of when to avoid using the words much and many? Or did we just make you hungry...............


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