Much/Many/A Lot Of

Introduction

Much, many, and a lot are determiners that mean ‘a large amount of’. They are often mixed up by English Learners. Look at the examples below and do the exercise to practise using much, many and a lot.

Louis and his family are on holiday in Madrid.

In the Plaza Mayor, there were so many people that Louis got lost.

He can’t ask for help because he can’t speak much Spanish.

He doesn’t know many words, and wouldn’t understand the people.

He doesn’t have much money either so he can’t take a taxi to the hotel.

What is he going to do?

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Much and Many

In Negative Sentences and Questions

We mostly use much and many in negative sentences and questions.

  • We use much with uncountable nouns.
Example:
How much money have you got?
Louis can’t speak much Spanish.
  • We use many with countable plural nouns.
Example:
How many children do they have?
Louis doesn’t know many Spanish words.

In Positive sentences.

We can use much and many in positive sentences after so, too, and as. But a lot is not possible after so, too, and as.

Example:
As usual she has made too many cakes.
Take as much time as you need.
We had so much fun at the party.
They had so a lot of fun in Spain.

We can use much and many by themselves in positive sentences, but only in a formal style.

Example:
Much has been said about ...
Many politicians believe ...

A lot

We mostly use a lot/lots + of in positive sentences with both countable and uncountable nouns.

Example:
They have met lots of people.
They have a lot of friends.
I have a lot of money.
I have a lot of time.

We don’t usually use a lot in negative sentences and questions much and many are more common.

Other ways to say ‘a lot’

There are lots of different words and expressions that we can use instead of a lot.

Formal:
plenty, a great/considerable number, a large/fair amount, numerous, a great deal
Informal:
loads, heaps, a pile/piles, stacks, tons, mountains, more … than one can poke a stick at