How much/how many toxins

Shimmer Dancer

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi everyone,
Toxin is countable noun. However, after searching on Google, I've seen both "how much toxins" and "how many toxins", and the Google book search results are similar.
For example,
But I don't think people realize just how many toxins we are exposed to every day. (From OUR ELECTRIC EMOTIONS by Susie Macomber)
How much water you drink is critical to how much toxins you remove from your system. (JADAM Organic Farming: The way to Ultra-Low-Cost agriculture by Youngsang Cho)

Which one is correct?
 
  • Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    Which one is correct?
    Both are correct. The context is different in each sentence.

    The first sentence refers to different specific toxins, which are countable and so "how many" is used.
    The second refers to a quantity of toxins, which is uncountable, and so "how much" is used.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I agree with Barque's definition. However, much is usually followed by a singular noun in formal writing: I would not dare write how much toxins if I felt that a judgmental audience was likely to critique my output!
     

    Glasguensis

    Signal Modulation
    English - Scotland
    Toxin is both countable and uncountable, so whether it takes much or many depends on the context. Your first example uses it as countable and is correct. Your second example uses it as uncountable and is debatable. Strictly it should be "how much toxin" but the writer obviously wanted to make clear that the reference was to various different toxins and not one in particular. A careful writer would have constructed the sentence differently to avoid this issue.
     

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello,

    I agree with se16teddy and Glasguensis, i.e:

    I agree with Barque about the first sentence.
    I would agree with Barque's interpretation of the second sentence if it read "how much toxin": uncountables should not carry a plural ending.
     
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