a lot of vs much/many

mike412

New Member
Colombian Spanish
Hi everyone,

I have seen some contradictory answers about which is a bit stronger or weaker in meaning.

Thanks in advance.
 
  • owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    Hi, Mike.

    I have seen some contradictory answers about which is a bit stronger or weaker in meaning.
    This doesn't surprise me. There are nearly eight billion people in the world. They often disagree with each other about various things.

    To me, a lot of is roughly synonymous with much and many. I don't think that any of these choices is really stronger or weaker: They have many different opinions = They have a lot of different opinions. There is much that they don't agree on = There is a lot that they don't agree on.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    There is no simple answer to that. It depends heavily on the context – especially whether the noun involved is countable or uncountable. And much and a lot or lots are not automatically alternatives anyway (in other words, much is rarely used in positive statements, such as: he has much money :thumbsdown:).
     

    Wordy McWordface

    Senior Member
    English - SSBE Standard British
    There is no difference in 'strength' between these words. The meaning is the same.

    The difference lies primarily in the grammar and in the level of formality required: much is used for uncountable nouns and many is used for countable nouns, while a lot of can be used for both countable and uncountable nouns. We also tend to use much and many mainly in questions and negative statements.

    For affirmative statements, we generally prefer alternatives, especially in informal contexts: a lot of or lots of usually replaces both much and many in affirmative statements in everyday conversation. In more formal contexts, we avoid the informal a lot of and we use an alternative such as a great deal of for uncountable nouns and many or an alternative such as a large number of for countable nouns.

    For example, in informal contexts, you might say "I've got a lot of mates", whereas in a formal essay you might write "I have many friends". The meaning is the same, but the register (level of formality of language) is different.
     
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