Many or much
Which of these sentences would you say is correct?
“I have so many homework to do.” or “I have so much homework to do.”
The second sentence is the correct version. Did you choose correctly?
This is a huge topic, so pay attention.
We are yet again examining something that is even executed incorrectly by native speakers.
This comes down, again, to countable and uncountable nouns. We need to distinguish the differences before we begin.
Remember that countable nouns, as the name suggests, are names of objects that can be counted using numbers. It stands to reason, therefore, that uncountable nouns are names of objects that cannot be counted using numbers.
Let’s take a quick look at examples of these nouns:
“There are six eggs in the fridge” - Countable
“The four horses are in that field.” - Countable
“They drank some water before they started.” - Uncountable
“A lot of knowledge is needed for this subject.” - Uncountable
Okay, now you’re refreshed, we can get into the differences between “many” and “much”.
Both of these words are used to describe a large quantity of the noun that is being described. It is a great way to describe excess or a lot of something.
We use “many” with countable nouns. The “eggs” and the “horses” from the examples we have used would fit into this category.
“We have so many eggs in the fridge!”
“There are too many horses in that field.”
“How many examples about eggs and horses are you going to write?”
We use “much” with uncountable nouns. So, taking the “water” and the “knowledge” from the examples mentioned already we can create the following examples.
“They have so much water and we have none.”
“How much knowledge is required for this subject?”
“I don’t have much money left.”
Just be careful with the countable and uncountable nature of the nouns here and you’ll be fine.
You many recall that we have discussed this concept before in other articles. It is useful to revisit this information regularly as countable and uncountable nouns should be second nature to a high-level English speaker.
As we have already seen, this is something that gets mixed up by native speakers a lot but it is frowned upon in formal settings. To see this error in an academic paper or hear it during an important meeting could cause difficulties for the person making that mistake.
Be mindful and practice often.
The best way to do this is simply repetitive practice. Repetition helps to cement these rules into your brain and decreases the errors that you make in your English speech, writing and comprehension.
Fill-in-the gap exercises are very useful. Construct a sentence that requires you to choose between “many” and “much”. Then, one by one, go through and insert the correct version according to the noun in the sentence.
Remember, all you need to know is whether the noun is countable or uncountable. If it is countable, you choose “many”. If it is uncountable, you choose “much”.