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Much, Many, A lot of, A few, A little

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Explaining the use of much/many with a lot of and a few/a little

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Much, Many, A lot of, A few, A little

  1. 1. MUCH/MANY/A FEW/A LITTLE 1. How Much and How Many When we want to know the amount of something we need to ask how much/how many? We use how many for countable We use how much for uncountable How many students do you have? How much time do you have? We also use ‘much’ and ‘many’ in questions without ‘how’: Do you have many students? Is there much time left? 2. Much, Many and a lot of When we answer in the positive we can use many for countable and much for uncountable: I have many students I have much time. However, these are formal, especially ‘much’ (‘many’ is only a little formal and acceptable to use) For both we can use ‘a lot of’ I have a lot of students. I have a lot of time. We can use the word plenty of for both countable and uncountable nouns: I have plenty of time. I have plenty of friends. It is possible to use the word several for countable: I have several students
  2. 2. In the negative we can use ‘not much’ and ‘not many’ as well as ‘not a lot of’ with no difference. It is usually better to use ‘not much/many’ I don’t have many students/I don’t have a lot of students I don’t have much time/I don’t have a lot of time ‘A lot of’ can be written ‘lots of’ in informal English. Also we can simply say ‘a lot’ (or ‘lots’) when we answer a question: How much free time do you have? A lot. We can also use the adverb ‘too’ with ‘much’ and ‘many’. Remember ‘too’ is ALWAYS negative (not possible with ‘a lot of’): There are too many students in this class. I have too much free time. I need to fill it with classes. We can use ‘very’ with ‘many’ and ‘much’ for emphasis (we cannot use ‘a lot’): There are always very many people at the beach. I love my wife very much. When we use the comparative as…as (see ‘Comparatives and Superlatives’) we use much and many: I don’t have as much money as my brother. She owns twice as many dresses as me. 3. A Few and A Little We use ‘a few’ and ‘a little’ similar to how we use ‘some’. ‘A few’ is used with countable nouns ‘A little’ is used with uncountable nouns I have a few students in my class I have a little time to see you before lunch Remember we can always use ‘some’ for both. It is possible to use ‘a bit of’ instead of ‘a little’ (uncountable). It is more informal: I have a bit of time to see you before lunch.

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