How to use much, many, a lot and lots of

Much and Many – do you know how to use these words in English? And what about lots of and a lot of? We can help you understand them fully and avoid mistakes.

Join us for a tour of our deck and learn how to use these words and phrases with countable and uncountable nouns. You’ll see how we use them in action and you’ll also see where we’ll be for the fireworks on this year’s July 4th holiday.

Click here to see our video on some and any.

Much, Many, A lot of and Lots

This lesson’s about some very common and really useful words.
Much and many.
And ‘a lot of’ and ‘lots of’.
We’ll show you how we use them with countable and uncountable nouns.
And we’ll also give you a tour of our deck.
Our deck?
Yeah. You’ll love it.

We live in Philadelphia in a small house with lots of stairs.
There are four floors and then on top, we have a deck, so there are 5 floors really.
You have to climb up 56 stairs to get to the deck.
56?
Yes I counted them.
Well it’s worth it. We have a lot of fun up there. Let’s take a camera up and we’ll shoot some video.
Upstairs?
Yes! And you can bring a light too.
Pww.
This is our deck. We often have dinner up here in the summer.
There are a lot of stairs in this house.
Yes. This is our view. We’re in the middle of the city so there are lots of skyscrapers.
And there’s lots of noise out here.
Well yes. There’s lots of traffic.
Behind those buildings is the Philadelphia Museum of Art and on July 4th there’s a big fireworks display there.
We can see the fireworks because they go up above the buildings so we’re going to have a little party and invite some friends over to watch.
Now, we haven’t invited many people because, well, there isn’t much space here.
But we can cook up here. This is Jay’s grill and it’s ridiculously large.
No, it’s not. It’s perfect.
How many hamburgers can you cook on this grill?
28.
And how many people can we seat at the table?
Six.
Exactly. It takes up too much room. It’s dirty too, Jay. You need to clean it.
But it’s so much work.
How much gas is in the tank?
Let me check. Ah. There isn’t much, but I have another tank downstairs.
Well if you go and get it, I’ll show everyone the kitchen. Come with me. There used to be a cupboard here but we took it out and built a little kitchen with a sink and a little fridge. There isn’t much room, but we can keep cold drinks in here. Hmm. We don’t have much beer, but I’ll get some more before the party.
There are too many stairs in this house.
Well done. Come and sit down and have a beer.
Oh, thank you. Happy July 4th everyone.
Happy 4th.

OK. You heard lots of examples of these words and phrases. Let’s start with ‘a lot of’. We use it to talk about a large number or quantity, and we use it with plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
Another phrase we use is ‘lots of’.

We’re in the middle of the city so there are lots of skyscrapers.
And there’s lots of noise out here.
Well yes. There’s lots of traffic.

‘A lot of’ and ‘lots of’ mean the same thing. Lots of is a little more informal, but it’s the same.
We can make our positive sentences into negatives. That works.
Or we can make them into questions. That works too.
Now, I have a question. Can you say: ‘There are many skyscrapers’ or ‘There is much traffic’?
Technically yes, because many and much mean ‘a lot of’. BUT we don’t. These sentences sound strange and unnatural and formal. You don’t want to sound like that. To sound natural say ‘a lot of’ or ‘lots of’ in positive sentences like these.
Written English is a little different. Let’s look at an example.
So this is written English, and it’s fairly formal. Here’s what we’d probably say, if we were speaking.

A lot of people like to visit their family for the July 4th holiday. So lots of Americans spend a lot of time traveling.

So positive sentences – say ‘a lot of’ or ‘lots of’.
Only say much and many in negative sentences and questions.

There isn’t much room, but we can keep cold drinks in here. Hmm. We don’t have much beer.

These are negative sentences and I said much.
Notice the word room. It’s not a room like a bedroom or living room in a house. It’s a different meaning. Room means space here and it’s an uncountable noun. With uncountables like room and beer, say much. With countables, say many.

Now, we haven’t invited many people because, well, there isn’t much space here.

People is an irregular plural. One person, two people. So it’s many with countables, like people and much with uncountables, like space.
Let’s look at some questions now.

How many hamburgers can you cook on this grill?
28
And how many people can we seat at the table?
Six.
How much gas is in the tank?
Let me check. Ah. There isn’t much.

If you’re asking about countables like hamburgers, ask how many.
And if it’s uncountable, like gas, ask how much.
Now I have another question. We normally only use much and many in negative sentences and questions. BUT, are there any exceptions? Are there any positive sentences where we say much and many? Yes, there are, and you heard some.

It takes up too much room. It’s dirty too, Jay. You need to clean it.
But it’s so much work.
There are too many stairs in this house.

We can use the phrases ‘too much’ and ‘too many’ and ‘so much’ and ‘so many’ in positive sentences. That’s the exception.
And that’s it.
Wow Vicki. That was ‘a lot’ of grammar.
Yeah, I hope it wasn’t ‘too much’. If you liked this video please share it with ‘lots of’ friends.
And I have a question for everyone.
What’s that?
Do you have a deck? Tell us in the comments below. What’s it like?
Or do you have a garden?
She means a yard.
We don’t have a garden but we love our deck.
Yes and I can’t wait for the fourth of July. Bye-bye everyone.
Bye.
Click here to see our video on some and any.

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