5

Countable and Uncountable – Much and Many

much and manyCountable and Uncountable

Nouns are things, places, people, and ideas; nouns can be singular or plural (meaning more than one). If a noun is a plural, then it is treated differently.  A plural noun can countable, meaning they can be counted, or uncountable, meaning they are not individual objects and hence cannot be counted.

Quantifiers include

  • some
  • any
  • much
  • many
  • more

The general rule is that any is used for questions and negatives, while some is used for positives.

Many and Much

The concept of countable and uncountable seems simple; however, much and many with countable and uncountable can be a challenging concept for some foreign learners of English for whom the rules of grammar are different in their language.

We use quantifiers like much, many, a lot, lots of when talking about quantities and amounts.

Japanese do not have the idea of countable and uncountable, especially with descriptors. Japanese students will want to say, “That is many rain” or “That is much apples.”

We can use ‘a lot of’  and ‘lots’ in an informal style with plural countable nouns instead of many or much, 

Ways of using Much and many:

  • With a noun – “Are there many monkeys in the zoo?”
  • With a question – “Are there many coins in the fountain?”
  • With a negative – “There was not much rain yesterday.”
  • Much of, Many of – How much of the president’s speech was the truth?”
  • Much and many can be used without a noun if the noun is obvious –“How many?”
  • The word ‘so’ can be used to emphasize a large quantity –“She has so much money?

What is the difference between Less and Fewer

Use ‘less’ when the items are uncountable. Example: “I bought fewer apples than last week.”

Use ‘Fewer’ when the items are countable.  Example: I bought less rice than last week.”

Test your knowledge of countable and uncountable in English Grammar

Welcome to your Much and many

I do not have any ____ money.
There was not ____  interest in the circus.
I had a ___ of money in the bank.
How ____  eggs do we need to make the cake?
I went shopping and spent ___  money.

Conclusion

Much and many Countable and Uncountable will be a difficult concept for some English Learners, especially those students from countries with a native language that do not have a distinction between countable and uncountable. Teachers may need to be persistent until the students understand when to use much and many

Grammar resources for teachers and students

Understanding and Using English Grammar by Betty Azar understandingEnglishGrammar
Grammarly. Correct your grammar as you type. Grammarly logo
English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy English Grammar in Use
The Blue book of Grammar and punctuation provides an easy to use guide with clear rules, real-world examples, and reproducible quizzes. thebluebookofgrammar

Aaron Skudder

5 Comments

  1. Interesting. I’m a native English speaker and I got 5 out of 5 on the quiz but I didn’t remember what the official grammatical terms were for countable and uncountable (or much and many). I only took basic English classes in school and the minimum requirement in college when I got an AA in web design.  I’ve been trying to find a good way to review or practice what I forgot regarding English grammar and then I want to take some free online college courses to learn what I never got around to learning. Thanks for the resources you provide on your English languard for learners site. Is there an online class you could recommend to me for learning college level English? Thanks.

  2. I got a score of 4 out of 5 on the quiz. I’m trying to improve my English composition as my goal is to become good at written English for my blogging business. That tips and the resources you’ve shared here are helpful to me, and I will be tuning in for more from you. I believe there’s room for improvement and this site of yours can help me improve this skill. So, I will bookmark this site for future reference.

    By the way, I have Grammarly installed in my browser to help me check for grammatical errors in my compositions. While it helps in the short term, do you think this is preventing me from really mastering English composition as I am becoming dependent on the plugin?

    • I recommend the paid version of Grammarly.  The free version is not as accurate.

  3. I notice this all the time with the words many and much. I’m very good with the English language but people do get these nouns confused.
    I would have thought that this being taught in school that mixing these up would be a rarity. But that’s obviously not the case.
    Countable and uncountable should be made an awareness to more people.
    For me it can be annoying when folks don’t use the right words and it does seem to come off as a kind of ignorance.
    Is there a better way to keep folks better informed?

    • The words ‘Much and many’ can be used as a pronoun, adverb or determiner, not a noun.  My website has a focus on adult learners and foreigner students of English.  Children in English speaking countries will learn English grammar from a young age.

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