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

Several vs. Many

Several and many both refer to quantities.

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

What Are Their Main Differences?

In fact, compared with the term 'many', 'several' refers to a smaller number; while 'many' refers to a larger number.


What They Refer to

  • 'Several':

refers to a small number. When we use the term 'number,' it implies that we are talking about a countable noun. So, 'several' has nothing to do with amounts and uncountable nouns.

Several students passed the hard test.

We have spent several hours together when we were on vacation.

  • 'Many':

refers to a large number. It means that whenever it is used before a noun it modifies its quantity. As a quantifier, it refers to a great number.

Many years have gone,, but he was still in love with Rosie.

Many believe he is responsible for his sister's death.

Grammatical Function

  • 'Many'
  1. as a noun

'Many' as a noun means 'the majority of' something or even people. In this case, you can also add determiners before it. For example, you might have heard the phrase 'the many' a lot. Check out the examples for more clarification.

The clown attracted the attention of the many.

His many arts are inspired by his love for Katie.

Common Expressions with Many

  • As many:

is mostly used in American English to refer to the same number of something that has been mentioned earlier.

John has five certifications and I think I have as many.

Write as many answers I wrote and we will decide which one is a better answer to each question.

  • As many as:

is used to indicate how large and surprising the number of the thing we are referring to is. Actually, it shows how large we mean by 'many.'

This ant hill seems to have as many as one million ants in it.

She drinks as many as three bottles of wine form morning till night.

Using Too and So

  • 'Many'

We can use the terms too and so before the term 'many' to intensify it. And it is actually, really common to use 'too many' and 'so many' in English. But the word 'several' cannot follow 'too' and 'so.' For example, there is no such thing as 'so several' or 'too several.'

He had too many problems in his life. (Not "He had too several problems in his life.")

We have taken so many journeys together. (Not " We have taken so several journeys together.)

Many a

using many a is considered old-fashioned and formal, however, generally 'many' is considered formal in affirmative sentences. 'Many a' is not used in modern English but it has the same meaning as 'many.' The important thing to know is that we do not use plural countable nouns and as a result it, we use a singular noun with it, as well. Remember 'many' is mostly used in negative and interrogative sentences, however, we use it in affirmative sentences a lot in everyday English.

Many a human tried to step on the moon.

Many a professor has refused to give an exam at the end of the semester.


Grammatical Functions

  • 'Many' and 'several':
  1. as determiners
  2. as pronouns

Determiners are used before nouns to modify them. 'Many' and 'several' as determiners are followed by plural countable nouns to refer to a large quantity. As pronouns, 'several' and 'many' are used alone, by 'alone', we mean they are not immediately followed by a noun.

She doesn't have many friends. → determiner

Several would buy this bottle but I wouldn't. → pronoun

How Verbs Agree with Nouns

  • 'Many' and 'several':

as determiners, are followed by plural countable nouns. As a result, both of them require plural verbs. As pronouns they refer to a large number so, we have to use plural verbs with 'many' and 'several.'

Many people hate some aspects of their work.

Many love sushi, but I don't.

I will stay for several weeks in Tokyo.

Several books are in the library.

Many of and Several of

  • 'Many' and 'several':

can be immediately followed by plural nouns as determiners. But the point is that whenever they are followed by a noun phrase we mean a determiner plus a noun or even a pronoun they are followed by the term 'of.' Here is the structure:

[many of/several of+determiner+noun], or [many of/several of+pronouns].

Check out the examples for more clarification.

Several of her co-workers backbit behind her back.

Many of my arts refer to ancient monuments.


  • 'Many' and 'several':

are quantifiers. It might raise a question that is: "What are quantifiers?". To get the answer to this question at first you have to know what quantity is. 'Quantity' means a definite amount or number. Now that you are familiar with the concept of quantity, the final step is to know that quantifiers refer to quantities and indicate a special amount or number.

When I was young I have had many loyal friends.

Mia's grandmother forgot to bring several things such as jam and bread.


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