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Much vs Many

Much is used with uncountable nouns, many with plural countable nouns:

I don’t have much time.

Does she have many friends?

Much and many are used mainly in interrogative and in negative forms. In affirmative sentences we use a lot (of), lots (of), loads (of), plenty (of), particularly in a colloquial style:

He has lots of friends.

There’s still plenty of time before the play starts.

Much and many are commonly found in affirmative sentences after too, so, as and very:

She spends too much money on clothes.

I’ve received so many gifts this year.

Write down as many words starting with “s” as you can.

Thank you very much.

In formal style, much and many are also used in affirmative forms:

There is much to say about this issue. Many experts argue that …

Much and many can be used without a noun if the meaning is clear:

“Was there a lot of traffic?” “No. Not much, really.”

“Have you met any interesting people at work?” “Not many.”

Remember!

Much and many can be used with of + a determiner or a pronoun:

I haven’t seen much of him lately.

Many of my friends live abroad.

Learning tip

Decide which of the following you have or don’t have: sense of humor, money, friends, free time, future plans, ambition, patience, pair of sneakers, a suit. Write short sentences in your notebook using the words much, many and other structures from this Grammar Reference Unit, e.g. I don’t have much money but I have a lot of friends.

A lot of…

A lot of and lots of have similar meanings to much and many. They are mainly used instead of much and many in affirmative sentences in informal situations. However, they can also be used in questions:

There’s a lot of pie left. Help yourself.

Did you buy many/lots of souvenirs in Rome?

Tons of is even more informal than lot/lots:

“Do we have any fruit left?” “Yes, there are tons of oranges and some apples and pears, too.”

In a more formal style we use a great deal (of) before singular uncountable nouns and a large number (of) before plural countable nouns:

He inherited a great deal of money from his uncle.

A large number of complaints have been lodged against the company.

Several means more than one, but fewer than many. It’s used with plural countable nouns:

Several people have lodged a complaint against the company’s executives.

Remember!

It is the subject that determines whether the following verb is singular or plural. So when a lot of/lots of are used before a singular subject, the verb is singular and when they are used before a plural subject the verb is plural.

A lot of/Lots of time is required to study for a doctorate.

A lot of/Lots of people are scared of heights.

Learning tip

Think about your possessions. Write some sentences in your notebook describing the ones you have a lot/lots/tons of.