Many, much

Lesson 8. The quantifiers "many" and "much": most people know the difference. However do you know the different types of questions when you can (and can’t) use them? Watch this lesson to check.

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  PDF Exercise

Many, much, a lot of - PDF  PDF Handout



Lesson transcript

Welcome back. In this lesson we're staying with quantity and we're going to look at 'many', 'much' and 'a lot of'.

And, just like last lesson we're going to check if each type works with countables or uncountables, and with positive question and negative sentences.

Here is the table that we're going to complete during this lesson.

And here we have 'many', 'much', 'a lot of' and 'lots of'.

We have boxes for if they work with countables or uncountables and boxes if they work with positive, question and negative sentences.



So let's start by checking if countables or uncountables work with 'many', 'much' and 'a lot of' or 'lots of'.

'Many', first of all, does it work with countables or uncountables?

For example, can we say many 'apples' –  'apples' being countable plural?

The answer is yes – we can. 'Many' is fine with countable plural.

How about 'many bread' – 'bread' being uncountable?

And the answer is no – it doesn't.

'Many' only works with countable plurals – no exceptions.

Next – 'much' – does that work with countables or uncountables?

For example, can we say 'much apples' – 'apples' again being countable plural? The answer is no we can't.

How about 'much bread' – 'bread' being uncountable?

The answer is yes we can.

So, 'much' only works with uncountables – no exceptions.

Finally, let's turn to 'a lot of' or 'lots of'.

And before we look at whether we can use it with countable or uncountable nouns do remember that 'a lot of' or 'lots of' is informal only so we wouldn't normally say a lot of for a business letter or for academic piece of writing, for example.

However, we can use it in general conversation or for informal writing such as in an email.

Also, in case you're wondering what the difference is between 'a lot of' and 'lots of', the answer is that there is no real difference.

They are virtually the same. The important thing is not to confuse them. So – don't say 'a lots of'. It's either – 'a lot of' or 'lots of'.

So let's now find out if we can use them with countables or uncountables. For example, can we say 'a lot of…' or 'lots of apples' in the countable plural?

And the answer is – yes we can. 'A lot of' or 'lots of' is fine with countable plural.

Next, can we say 'a lot of…' or 'lots of bread' in the uncountable?

The answer – yes we can. So, as you can see, we can use 'a lot of' or 'lots of' with both countable plurals – apples – and uncountables – bread.



So let's summarise what we have so far.

'Many' is for countable plurals only – so 'many apples'.

'Much' is for uncountables only – so 'much bread'.

And 'a lot of' or 'lots of' is for both – so 'a lot of apples' and 'a lot of bread'.



Let's now turn to whether we can use 'many', 'much', and 'a lot of' for positive, question and negative sentences.

Starting with 'many', here we have three sentences in the positive, question and negative.

First sentence – 'There were many people at the party'.

Does this work? And the answer is yes it does, although we only really say 'many people' in the positive in a formal sense for example in a business letter or in an academic essay.

Next question – can we say 'Were there many people at the party?' And the answer is yes we can. 'Many' is fine in the question. In the question form it's not formal and it's not informal – it's just neutral.

How about in the negative? Can we say 'There weren't many people at the party.'?

Again, it's fine – and again it's also neutral – it's not formal and it's not informal.

So let's add this to our table – 'many' for positive statements is fine but for formal use only. For question and negative sentences it's fine and is neutral in register.

Next – 'much' in positive, question and negative sentences.

Three sentences again. First of all, in the positive – 'There was much food at the party'.

Is this correct? The answer is yes it is. But again 'much' in the positive is for formal use only.

How about in the question – 'was there much food the party?'.

In this case it's fine, and as with 'many', it's neutral in register in the question.

And finally in the negative, can we say 'there wasn't much food at the party'?

And again, it's fine, and again it's neutral.

So let's complete our table for 'much'. 'Much' in the positive is fine but formal only.

In the question and in the negative it's fine and is neutral in register – not formal and not informal like 'a lot of' and 'lots of'.

So that's 'much'. Let's finally turn to 'a lot of' and 'lots of' for positive, question and negative sentences.

Let's turn for a final time to 3 sentences. First of all, in the positive, can we say 'there was a lot / lots of food at the party'?

The answer is yes we can.

Question now: 'Was there a lot of food at the party?'. Does this work?

The answer is yes it does.

And finally, in the negative, can we say 'there wasn't a lot of food at the party'?

The answer is yes, we can. All three sentences work.

So let's now finish our table.

'A lot of' and 'lots of' in the positive is fine.

Question – it's also fine, and in the negative it's fine again.

So that's the end of the lesson. Now the most important thing to remember from all of this is that 'many' is for countables, 'much' is for uncountables and 'a lot of' / 'lots of' can be used with both.

The second most important thing to remember is that 'many' and 'much' in the positive are formal use only.

In the question and negative of course neutral.

And the third thing to remember is that 'a lot of' / 'lots of' is informal.



Now there is one final thing I want to mention.

As you see, 'many' and 'much' in the positive whereas in the question and negative they are neutral.

What do we say in the positive for a neutral register? We can't use 'a lot of' because that's informal, which is below neutral?

And the answer is we use either 'several' for countables – say 'several apples' – or 'a great deal of' for uncountables – so 'a great deal of bread'.

so for positive statements we can use 'many' or 'much' for formal sentences.

We can use 'a lot of' or 'lots of' for informal sentences.

And, in the middle, for a neutral sentences we can use 'several' for countables – 'several apples' – and 'a great deal of' for  uncountables – so 'a great deal of bread'.



Here is the PDF of the lesson and as you can see it covers all the points that we've looked at for 'many', 'much' and 'a lot of' and 'lots of'. There are also some example sentences to help.

Join me in Part 2 for the practice exercises and in the next lesson we're going to look at 'a few' and 'a little'.

Also, there will be practice exercises on all quantity – so, 'some' and 'any', 'many' 'much' and 'a lot of', which we looked at in this lesson, and 'a few' and 'a little' which we'll look at in the next lesson.

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INDEX:
Nouns: Countables, Uncountables (1)
Articles (2)
(3) | (Zero Article 4) | The: Special Uses (5)
There is, there are (6)
Quantity: Some, Any (7) | Many, Much, A lot of (8) | A few, a little (9)
Prepositions of time: In, On, At (10)
The Present: Present Simple (11) | Present Continuous (12)
The Past: Past Simple (13) | Past Continuous (14) | Present Perfect (15)
Irregular Verbs (16)
The Future: Future Simple (17) | Future Plans (18)
Phrasal Verbs (19) (20)



     Countable and uncountable nouns 

     Countable and Uncountable
     Nouns
     Learn the two key rules

    
     "The": Special Uses
 
      "The": Special Uses
      10 special uses of 'the' here

   
     Phrasal Verbs - Part 1 

     Phrasal Verbs Part 1
     Each example with a picture

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