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Many and Much - the Difference

The Quick Answer
Use many with a plural noun. For example:
  • Do you have many coins left?
  • (Coins is a plural noun.)
Use much with a singular noun. For example:
  • Do you have much money left?
  • (Money is a singular noun.)

Much and Many

The words much and many both mean a lot of. As a result, they are sometimes confused.

Much

The word much is used with a singular noun. For example:
  • How much money does one man need?
  • (Money is a singular noun.)
  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • (Wood is a singular noun.)
  • People don't understand how much time and work it takes to make somebody laugh. (Marlon Wayans)
  • (Time and work are both singular nouns.)

Many

The word many is used with a plural noun. For example:
  • It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it. (Benjamin Franklin)
  • (Deeds is a plural noun.)
  • Many people limit themselves to what they think they can do. (Mary Kay Ash)
  • (People is a plural noun.)
  • A man can fail many times, but he isn't a failure until he begins to blame somebody else. (John Burroughs)
  • (Times is a plural noun.)

Much and Many Tend to Be Used with Questions or Negative Clauses

The words much and many tend to be used in questions or negative clauses. For example:
  • Will you need much help?
  • (Question)
  • You will not need much time.
  • (Negative clause)
  • How many cats are there?
  • (Question)
  • You do not have many positive traits.
  • (Negative clause)

Much and Many in Positive Clauses

When used in positive clauses, the words much and many tend to be used with terms like as, so, and too. For example:
  • You have as many issues as I do.
  • You have so many faults.
  • You have too many problems to list.
  • Please bring me as much cheese as you can carry.
  • I have so much cheese.
  • If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done. (Bruce Lee)
It is possible to see much and many used in positive clauses without terms like as, so, and too, but most native English speakers will naturally choose a lot of or lots of instead of much and many in those circumstances. For example:
  • You have lots of issues.
  • You have a lot of issues.
  • That is lots of cheese.
  • That is a lot of cheese.
Quick Test
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Note

Much and Many Are Indefinitive Adjectives

When used to modify a noun, the words much and many are classifed as indefinite adjectives. Other common indefinite adjectives are each, any, few, most, several, and some.

Read more about indefinite adjectives.

Learn about Countable and Non-Countable Nouns

Nouns with a plural form are called countable nouns. Therefore, many is used with countable nouns. Countable nouns contrast with non-countable nouns. Non-countable nouns do not have a plural form. Therefore, much is used with non-countable nouns.

Read more about countable nouns.
Read more about non-countable nouns.