Much vs. Many

Much and many are both quantifiers and they are really easy to learn.

"Much" vs. "Many" in the English Grammar

What Are Their Main Differences?

These two terms are used as quantifiers before nouns. They both refer to a large quantity. The main difference between 'much' and 'many' is that 'much' refers to a singular uncountable noun, while 'many' refers to plural countable nouns.


Singular or plural Nouns?

  • 'Much':

is followed by a singular uncountable noun. As a result, you are supposed to use a singular verb after the term 'much' or even before it if it is needed in different structures. Do not use 'much' before singular countable nouns.

Do not use much money this month, we've got three birthday parties this month.

I don’t drink much milk; it smells bad.

  • 'Many':

is followed by a plural countable noun. As a result, you are supposed to use a plural verb after the term 'many' or even before it if it is needed in different structures.

Many products were stolen last night because the door was accidently not locked.

There are not many students in our class. It is just four of us.

Grammatical Functions

  • 'many'

As an adjective, 'many' is used before nouns to define them. As it is was mentioned earlier it is used before plural countable nouns. Remember as many is an adjective in this use it follows a determiner such as [the, his, their, these, etc.]

He spent the many hours at the station waiting for her.

I have to appreciate the many people who took our side in this protest.

  • 'much'

'Much' as an adverb can be used before adjectives and adverbs. Check out the examples to be clarified.

He could run much faster when he was young.

Hey Chad you can be much better honey.

What They Refer to

  • 'Much':

refers to a large amount. When we say amount we mean that 'much' has nothing to do with numbers. As a result, it cannot be used with items that can be easily counted.

Eating much food would cause obesity.

She didn't lose much hair during the chemotherapy and that is not a good sign.

  • 'Many':

refers to a large number. So, all it has to do is deal with numbers and countable nouns.

Many mistakes are made by ourselves when we are scared.

She has lost many opportunities during her lifetime.

'Many a/an'

  • 'Many':

can be followed by the articles [a or a] with the same meaning as 'many', we mean it means 'a number of', but this form is considered formal, archaic, poetic, or literary used. You can find this form in poems like Shakespeare's. Remember, as the article requires the noun after 'many a' must be a singular countable noun.

They were in love for many a year.

The queen told many a tale to the little princess in the tall fancy castle.


What They Refer to

  • 'Much' and 'many':

both refer to a large quantity. By quantity, we mean number and amount, so, they are considered quantifiers.

Many students are supposed to pass this course.

We didn't hear much about Hanna after his death.

Types of Sentences They Are Used in

  • 'Much' and 'many':

are used in negative and interrogative sentences in informal situations. We can also use them in affirmative sentences when we are talking formally. However, we can use them in any sentence in spoken English with no imperfections. [ A lot of, plenty of, lots of] are good alternatives for 'much' and 'many' in informal positive sentences.

I have many professors who would help me on this subject.

Are there many balloons in the bride’s room?

There are not many immigrants in Italy.

His father was an alcoholic he drank too much alcohol.

Do Italian eat much rice?

The Americans don’t have much pasta. They use meat and chicken instead.

I have broken a lot of hearts during my life.

Informal speech

Grammatical Functions

  • 'Much' and 'many':

As you know, determiners are used before nouns whether countable plural, or singular, or uncountable. Using suitable kinds of nouns after each determiner just relies on the determiner and its rules itself, but the important point is that they are all used before nouns, as pronouns, both 'many' and 'much' are used alone without any nouns following them immediately. 'Much and many' are used alone especially when it is obvious what we are talking about.

I have had many dolls when I was a little girl. → determiner

The company didn't make much progress in the last two years. → determiner

Much was left in the plate. → pronoun

Many have got the common cold at least once a year. → pronoun

Comparative and Superlative

  • 'many' and 'much':

The comparative form for 'many and much' is the term 'more', you must know, using the term 'more' indicates that we are making comparisons between a set of two. The superlative form for 'many and much' is the term 'most'. When we use the term most it shows that we are talking about more than two items. Remember they can be used before adjectives to make comparative or superlative adjectives or they can also be used on their own to mean larger or the largest.

John seems more reasonable than Marco.

The most important person in my life is my mother.

'Not Much' and 'Not Many'

  • 'Not much' and 'not many':

In affirmative sentences using (a) few instead of 'not many' and using (a) little instead of 'not much' convey the same meanings.

A few books are left in my locker at school. (Also, "Not many books are left in my locker at school.")

A little water was added to the chicken soup. (Also, "Not much water was added to the chicken soup.)

'How Many' and 'How Much'

  • 'How much' and 'How many':

are used to ask about the quantity of something. 'How much' is followed by a singular uncountable noun to ask for the amount or sometimes to ask for the price. How many is used before plural countable nouns to ask for the number. They both can be used alone, not followed by any noun when it is obvious what we are talking about.

How much does it cost?

Here in this example we are asking for the price of something.

How many school friends do you have?


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