Good afternoon! I’m a little behind schedule with the post today, because I put some extra effort into the infographic above. The full image is posted below. Feel free to use for any personal or education, non-profit uses.
Let’s get started! This week’s grammar point combines two important grammar points that let us talk about quantity or amounts: much vs. many, and too vs. not enough.
Much vs. Many
The first step is too determine if you should use much or many. To do so, you need to decide if your noun is countable or uncountable. For example, we can count the number of plants in your garden. Plants are countable nouns. We cannot easily count soil, because the quantity is countable only if we use a specific unit of measurement, such as a quart, liter, etc. Soil, or dirt, is an uncountable noun. Sometimes, this can be difficult, but you can also look to see if there is an s at the end of the word when it is plural. If there is an s, usually, it is countable. If there is not an s, it is usually not countable.
- coffee beans
Once we know if a known is countable or uncountable, we know if we should use many or much.
If a noun is countable, we use many.
- How many plants do you have?
- I have many plants.
- You don’t have many plants?
- No, I don’t have many plants.
If a noun is uncountable, we use much.
- Do you have much space on your balcony?
- I have much space.* [See next section]
- How much space do you have?
- No, I don’t have very much space.
Using A Lot
Knowing the difference between many and much is very important, especially when asking questions. However, when answering questions with a positive statement, English speakers are more likely to use a lot to describe a quantity or amount. This is almost always done when replying positively to a question with much in it. A lot can mean very, many, much, or to a large degree. When used with nouns, you will need to add the word of before the noun. Look at the following examples.
- Question: Do you have many herbs growing in your garden?
- Replies: Yes, I have a lot of herbs in my garden./Yes, I have many herbs in my garden./No, I don’t have many herbs in my garden./No, I don’t have a lot of herbs in my garden.
- Question: Is there much soil in each pot?
- Replies: Yes, there is a lot of soil in each pot./
Yes, there is much soil in each pot./No, there is not much soil in each pot./No, there is not a lot of soil in each pot.
In the first example, all replies sound natural. In the second example, the second reply does not sound very natural. The first option would be a better choice.
Do We Want More or Less? |Too Much/Too Many vs. Not Enough
Now that we know the difference between many, much, and a lot, we need to think about if we want more or less of the item.
- If we have the perfect amount and we do not want/need more or less, then we have enough.
- If we want/need more, then we do not have enough. There is not enough.
- If we want/need less, then we have too much or too many.
It helps some people like to think about nouns as good or bad.
- Good: If you have many good things, you have a lot. If you do not have many, then you do not have enough.
- Bad: If you have a lot of bad things or of a bad thing, you have too many/too much.
It is important to note that sometimes you can have more of a “good” thing than you need, and that could be bad. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. I think coffee is good, but if I drink eight cups in a day, that is too much!
Let’s take a look at a few examples that were used naturally in yesterday’s post.
- I do not have a lot of experience with gardening, but I can only improve, right?
- Things grew very well, but after a while, we had many aphids on our plants…
- I think I tried too many things, because many of our plants shriveled.
- …we do not have very much space for planting a garden.
- There were too many to choose from!
- I didn’t want to spend too much money this year.
- …now we have too many basil plants.
You may click on the image to make it bigger.
Practice time. We can never have too much practice, right?!
Much, Many, or A lot: Choose between much, many, a lot to fill in the blanks.
- Does this pot hold ________ soil?
- I cook with _______ types of fresh herbs.
- How ________ sugar do you add?
- How ________ bags of soil do you need?
- I eat ________ bread.
Too Much, Too Many, Enough, Not Enough: Fill in the blanks.
- I am really full! I think I ate _________ food.
- I only ate one serving of vegetables today. That is _________.
- Do you have __________ soil to fill the pots?
- I think I will have soil left over. I think I bought __________.
- When I went to the market, the plants were on sale, so I bought a lot. Now, I know that I do _____ have ________ room for all of them! I bought ___________ plants!
Much, Many, or A lot
- Does this pot hold much soil? [a lot of would also work].
- I cook with many types of fresh herbs.
- How much sugar do you add?
- How many bags of soil do you need?
- I eat a lot of bread.
Too Much, Too Many, Enough, Not Enough
- I am really full! I think I ate too much food.
- I only ate one serving of vegetables today. That is not enough.
- Do you have enough soil to fill the pots?
- I think I will have soil left over. I think I bought too much.
- When I went to the market, the plants were on sale, so I bought a lot of them. Now, I know that I do not have enough space for all of them! I bought too many plants!
Was that enough grammar for the day? Was that too much grammar for the day?
Please let me know what you think of the images in today’s post. Were they helpful?