Quantifiers: much, many or a lot of?

calculator2Here’s a quick grammar tip that may help improve your English today.

A quantifier is a word that talks about the number, quantity or amount of something.  Examples of English quantifiers include words like each, both, either, neither, few, some, any, much, many, a lot of etc.

The last three, much, many, a lot of/lots of cause some problems.  Sometimes I hear sentences like the following:

How much money have you got?  It’s okay, I’ve got *much.

Did you have any trouble with customs?  Rather *much.

There isn’t much food left is there?  There’s *much bread and soup.

He’s got a lot of friends, but he doesn’t know *lots of girls.

We’ve played a lot of matches this season, but we haven’t won *lots.

None of the above sentences are correct.  As a general rule we use LOTS/A LOT OF in affirmative phrases, and MUCH (for uncountable nouns like « money ») and MANY (for countable nouns like « girls ») in negative phrases and questions.

Can you correct the above sentences?

In formal writing the rules are a little bit different.  We don’t like using LOTS OF in formal writing.  A LOT OF is possible, but we prefer to use expressions like the following:

Mr Lucas has spent a great deal of time in the Far East.

The auditors have found a large number of mistakes in the accounts.

In very formal style, you will find phrases that look like mistakes when you take into account the rules about much/many above:

Much research has been carried out in order to establish the causes of cancer.  In the opinion of many scientists…

In formal style it is quite acceptable to use much/many in affirmative phrases, not only in negatives and questions.

For more information on quantifiers see the next post on few and little.

For more details I recommend the following resources:

Ecrire un commentaire