There are several words in the English language that have the same meaning. But that does not allow us to use them whenever and wherever needed. You are sure to face complications if you do not know the differences between them and the rules of applying them.
The trio “much”, “many”, and “several” can be a good example. All these words carry the same meaning that indicates something that is large in quantity. But their usages can be more complicated than you think.
There are certain rules concerning their application and meanings, and not following them can cause errors. Let us discuss them right away.
Much vs Many vs Several – Difference
“Much” carries a meaning that refers to something that is in a large amount. The main rule in using the word “much” is that it is applicable only with uncountable nouns. It is used to indicate a large quantity of something that is not countable.
While using “much” in a sentence, the concerned noun will always remain singular.
- There is not much sugar left.
- Do not waste too much time on your phone.
- How much did it cost?
We see “much” is used with words like sugar, water, time, etc. these are uncountable nouns. Also, “much” is often preceded by words like too, so, as, etc.
“Many” also carries the same meaning as “much” which indicates a great quantity. However, “many” is applicable only with countable nouns. “Many” indicates something that is great in quantity and can be counted in numbers.
While using “many” the noun will always be plural.
- How many dogs are there?
- I have many of those books.
- I cannot handle so many people together.
We see, “many” deals with people, animals, things that can be counted in numbers.
Furthermore, you can also apply “many” with noncount nouns, but only if they are presented as a measured quantity. Let us understand with an example;
- How many pieces of cake have you eaten till now?
“Several” on the other hand, is used to indicate something that is more than one or two in quantity but not more than “many”. It indicates something that is more than some but less than many.
“Several” is usually applied when one is referring to a non-living thing. And it is always followed by a plural noun.
Let us understand with some examples;
- There are several cars parked outside.
- Several books were scattered in the library.
- Several things went wrong in the event last night.
It is quite similar to “many” but “several” is always below “many” in the hierarchy.
Remember the Difference between Much and Many and Several
It is quite clear now that these words carry similar meanings, but they are not applicable everywhere. “Much” is used with uncountable nouns, “many” is used with countable nouns, and “several” is used when indicating something that is more than one in quantity but less than many.
Remembering these key differences will make the rules clear and avoid any complications that you might face while using these words.