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A lot of/lots of - much/many

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A lot of, lots of, much and many are used in relation to count and non-count nouns so it is useful to remember which nouns are ‘count’ (countable) and ‘non-count’ (uncountable) first:

Countable and uncountable nouns

Countable nouns or ‘count’ nouns are those nouns that can be counted:
An apple, two apples etc.

Uncountable nouns or ‘non-count’ nouns are those nouns that cannot be counted: water, bread etc. Uncountable nouns take a singular verb and are not used with a/an.

Uncountable nouns can be divided into different groups:
Mass nouns: fruit juice, butter, sugar, rice, sand, etc.
Study subjects: physics, chemistry, mathematics (maths), history etc.
Sports: football, rugby, basketball etc.
Languages: English, Italian, Dutch, Arabic etc.
Diseases: influenza, malaria, asthma etc.
Natural phenomena: rain, snow, mist etc.
Collective nouns: money, baggage, furniture, etc.
other nouns: information, accommodation, anger, luck, love, etc.

A lot of and lots

A lot of and lots of are used with both plural count and non-count nouns. They are normally used in affirmative sentences. ‘of’ is omitted when a lot or lots are not followed by a noun.

A lot of/lots of are used with both plural count nouns and non-count nouns. They are usually used with affirmative sentences.
We met a lot of people when we went out.
There were lots different stalls at the market.
‘of’ is not used when a lot of/lots of do not have a noun after them:
Where there many people at the beach? Yes lots.

Much and many are normally used in negative sentences or questions. Much is used with non-count nouns and many is used with plural count nouns.
There aren’t that many Indian restaurants in my city.
Did you spend much at the mall?

How much/how many

How much and how many are used in questions and negations.
How much is used with non-count nouns for amount.
How many is used with count nouns for number
How much sugar do you like in your tea?
How many times have you been here?


Too much is used with non-count nouns. It has a negative meaning and shows that there is more of something than necessary.
I think I drank too much last night.
There was too much noise in the restaurant to hear what anyone was saying.

Too many is used with plural count nouns. It has the same meaning as too much.
I think I’ll stop going to the city centre on Sundays. There are too many people there these days.

Lesson by EC Malta teacher Tristan, Learn English in Malta

Choose the correct word/phrase for the following:

  • 1) How ___ times have you been to the USA?

  • 2) How ___ time do we have before the film starts?

  • 3) The cocktail had ___ sugar in it. It was too sweet for me.

  • 4) The festival has attracted ___ people from all over the country.

  • 5) He speaks ___ different languages.

  • 6) The workers were making ___ noise this morning. I couldn’t sleep.

  • 7) ___ houses are very expensive in that area.

  • 8) I can’t take more than two weeks off from work. Any longer and it becomes ___ a good thing.