Much, many, a lot of, lots of: quantifiers
We use the quantifiers much, many, a lot of, lots of to talk about quantities, amounts and degree. We can use them with a noun (as a determiner) or without a noun (as a pronoun).
Much, many with a noun
We use much with singular uncountable nouns and many with plural nouns:
[talking about money]
I haven’t got much change. I’ve only got a ten euro note.
Are there many campsites near you?
Questions and negatives
We usually use much and many with questions (?) and negatives (−):
Is there much unemployment in that area?
How many eggs are in this cake?
Do you think many people will come?
It was pouring with rain but there wasn’t much wind.
There aren’t many women priests.
In affirmative clauses we sometimes use much and many in more formal styles:
There is much concern about drug addiction in the US.
He had heard many stories about Yanto and he knew he was trouble.
In informal styles, we prefer to use lots of or a lot of:
I went shopping and spent a lot of money.
I went shopping and spent much money.
Much of, many of
When we use much or many before articles (a/an, the), demonstratives (this, that), possessives (my, your) or pronouns (him, them), we need to use of:
How much of this book is fact and how much is fiction?
Claude, the seventeenth-century French painter, spent much of his life in Italy.
Unfortunately, not many of the photographers were there.
How many of them can dance, sing and act?
This much, that much
When we are talking to someone face-to-face, we can use this much and that much with a hand gesture to indicate quantity:
[the speaker indicates a small amount with his fingers]
I only had that much cake.
A lot of, lots of with a noun
We use a lot of and lots of in informal styles. Lots of is more informal than a lot of. A lot of and lots of can both be used with plural countable nouns and with singular uncountable nouns for affirmatives, negatives, and questions:
We’ve got lots of things to do.
That’s a lot of money.
There weren’t a lot of choices.
Can you hurry up? I don’t have a lot of time.
Are there a lot of good players at your tennis club?
Have you eaten lots of chocolate?
Much, many, a lot of, lots of: negative questions
When we use much and many in negative questions, we are usually expecting that a large quantity of something isn’t there. When we use a lot of and lots of in negative questions, we are usually expecting a large quantity of something.
The speaker expects that they have sold a small quantity of tickets.
The speaker expects that they have sold a large quantity of tickets.
The speaker expects that there is a small quantity of food left.
The speaker expects that there is a large quantity of food left.
Much, many, a lot, lots: without a noun
We usually leave out the noun after much, many and a lot, lots when the noun is obvious:
Would you like some cheese?B:
Yes please but not too much. (not too much cheese)
Can you pass me some envelopes?B:
How many? (how many envelopes?)
How many people came?B:
A lot. (or Lots.)
Much with comparative adjectives and adverbs: much older, much faster
We can use much before comparative adjectives and adverbs to make a stronger comparison:
Sometimes the prices in the local shop are much better than the supermarket’s prices.
I feel much calmer now I know she’s safe. (much calmer than I felt before)
She’s walking much more slowly since her operation. (much more slowly than before)
Too much, too many and so much, so many
Too much, too many with a noun
We often use too before much and many. It means ‘more than necessary’. We can use too much before an uncountable noun and too many before a plural noun, or without a noun when the noun is obvious:
I bought too much food. We had to throw some of it away.
They had a lot of work to do. Too much. (too much work)
There are too many cars on the road. More people should use public transport.
There are 35 children in each class. It’s too many. (too many children)
So much, so many with a noun
We use so rather than very before much and many in affirmative clauses to emphasise a very large quantity of something:
He has so much money!
He has very much money!
There were so many jobs to do.
As much as, as many as
Much, many and a lot of, lots of: typical errors
We use much with uncountable nouns and many with countable nouns:
It doesn’t need much effort.
It doesn’t need many effort.
We usually use a lot of and lots of rather than much and many in informal affirmative clauses:
There are a lot of monuments and a lot of historic buildings in Rome.
There are many monuments and many historic buildings in Rome.
She gave me a lot of information.
She gave me much information.
We don’t use of after much or many when they come immediately before a noun without an article (a/an, the), demonstrative (this, that), possessive (my, your) or pronoun (him, them):
They haven’t made many friends here.
They haven’t made many of friends here.
We don’t use a lot of without a noun:
Do many people work in your building?B:
Yes. Quite a lot. (quite a lot of people)
Quite a lot of.
(“Much, many, a lot of, lots of : quantifiers” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press.)
- Adjectives and adverbs
Easily confused words
- Above or over?
- Across, over or through?
- Advice or advise?
- Affect or effect?
- All or every?
- All or whole?
- Allow, permit or let?
- Almost or nearly?
- Alone, lonely, or lonesome?
- Along or alongside?
- Already, still or yet?
- Also, as well or too?
- Alternate(ly), alternative(ly)
- Although or though?
- Altogether or all together?
- Amount of, number of or quantity of?
- Any more or anymore?
- Anyone, anybody or anything?
- Apart from or except for?
- Arise or rise?
- Around or round?
- Arouse or rouse?
- As or like?
- As, because or since?
- As, when or while?
- Been or gone?
- Begin or start?
- Beside or besides?
- Between or among?
- Born or borne?
- Bring, take and fetch
- Can, could or may?
- Classic or classical?
- Come or go?
- Consider or regard?
- Consist, comprise or compose?
- Content or contents?
- Different from, different to or different than?
- Do or make?
- Down, downwards or downward?
- During or for?
- Each or every?
- East or eastern; north or northern?
- Economic or economical?
- Efficient or effective?
- Elder, eldest or older, oldest?
- End or finish?
- Especially or specially?
- Every one or everyone?
- Except or except for?
- Expect, hope or wait?
- Experience or experiment?
- Fall or fall down?
- Far or a long way?
- Farther, farthest or further, furthest?
- Fast, quick or quickly?
- Fell or felt?
- Female or feminine; male or masculine?
- Finally, at last, lastly or in the end?
- First, firstly or at first?
- Fit or suit?
- Following or the following?
- For or since?
- Forget or leave?
- Full or filled?
- Fun or funny?
- Get or go?
- Grateful or thankful?
- Hear or listen (to)?
- High or tall?
- Historic or historical?
- House or home?
- How is …? or What is … like?
- If or when?
- If or whether?
- Ill or sick?
- Imply or infer?
- In the way or on the way?
- It’s or its?
- Late or lately?
- Lay or lie?
- Lend or borrow?
- Less or fewer?
- Look at, see or watch?
- Low or short?
- Man, mankind or people?
- Maybe or may be?
- Maybe or perhaps?
- Nearest or next?
- Never or not … ever?
- Nice or sympathetic?
- No doubt or without doubt?
- No or not?
- Nowadays, these days or today?
- Open or opened?
- Opportunity or possibility?
- Opposite or in front of?
- Other, others, the other or another?
- Out or out of?
- Permit or permission?
- Person, persons or people?
- Pick or pick up?
- Play or game?
- Politics, political, politician or policy?
- Price or prize?
- Principal or principle?
- Quiet or quite?
- Raise or rise?
- Remember or remind?
- Right or rightly?
- Rob or steal?
- Say or tell?
- So that or in order that?
- Sometimes or sometime?
- Sound or noise?
- Speak or talk?
- Such or so?
- There, their or they’re?
- Towards or toward?
- Wait or wait for?
- Wake, wake up or awaken?
- Worth or worthwhile?
Nouns, pronouns and determiners
- about nouns
- common nouns
- noun phrases
- question words
- uncountable nouns
Prepositions and particles
- Among and amongst
- At, in and to (movement)
- At, on and in (place)
- At, on and in (time)
- Beneath: meaning and use
- By + myself etc.
- For + -ing
- In front of
- In spite of and despite
- In, into
- Near and near to
- On, onto
- Prepositional phrases
- Words, sentences and clauses
- Using English
Word of the Day
a painting, photograph, drawing, etc. of a person or, less commonly, of a group of people