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  ENGLISH GRAMMAR for ESL learners  


A lot of, much and many are used to talk about quantities, amounts and degree.


A lot of can be used in all sentences: affirmative, negative and interrogative, with both countable and uncountable nouns.
  • We learned a lot of  new English words.
  • We didn't learn a lot of  grammar.
  • Did you learn a lot of  English expressions?

There is hardly any difference between a lot of and lots of.  Lots of is slightly more informal.
  • The new owner made a lot of money on the stock market.
  • Charlie's got lots of money and he's generous with it.
A lot (without of) means a great deal. A lot is not followed by a noun.
  • Tom knows a lot of vocabulary.
  • Charlie is talkative. He talks a lot.

Much is used with singular uncountable nouns (for example: 'much English')
  • I don't know much English yet.
  • Do you get much homework to do?


Many is used with plural countable nouns (for example: 'many words')
  • I don't know many words yet.
  • Do you get many exercises to do?

Much and many are more commonly used in negative and interrogative sentences. They are rarely used in affirmative sentences, except:
  • If they begin a sentence:
    • Many people believe all they hear.
    • Much of what was said was confusing.

  • If they are preceded by ‘so’, ‘as’ and ‘too’ and in some expressions with ‘very’:
    • There was much noise.
    • There was so much noise that I couldn’t hear very well.
    • We ate many cherries.
    • You can eat as many cherries as you like.
    • They gave us much information.
    • They gave us too much information.
    • I enjoyed the film very much.

  • In formal or written English.
    In affirmative sentences much and many are more often used in formal or written English, whereas a lot of / lots of  are more common in informal conversation.
    In newspaper reports and headlines, for example, much and many are generally used.
Although much and many are less frequently used in affirmative sentences, they can however be used:
  • The results of the elections led to much concern.
  • There are many books available on the subject.


Before articles (a/an, the), demonstratives (this, that), possessives (my, your) or pronouns (her, them), we need to use of with much and many:
  • Much of his life was devoted to humanitarian causes.
  • Not many of the witnesses could describe the attacker.

Affirmative Negative Interrogative
We learn a lot of English.
I don't know a lot of English. Do you learn a lot of English?
She spends much time on her homework..
She spends a lot of time on her homework.
She doesn't spend much/a lot of time on her homework. Does she spend much/a lot of time on her homework?
Sam watches many domentaries on TV.
Sam watches a lot of documentaries on TV.
Sam doesn't watch many/a lot of films on TV. Does Sam watch many/a lot of news reports on TV?
Much effort went into the preparation.

Many people drive too fast.

It doesn't require much/a lot of preparation.

We don't meet many/a lot of people.

Does it require much/a lot of preparation?

Do you meet many/a lot of people?

See: countable-uncountable nouns

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Please note that British English spelling is used on this website.

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