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How Much - How Many

How Much - How Many

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Requirements

How much – How many

Hello! In this lesson, we will learn to use the questions "how much" and "how many" ask about amounts of substances and numbers of items. We will also learn some common expressions for indeterminate amounts.

Before we can continue, we must understand a concept that is used in English – count nouns a nd non-count nouns. Count nouns are nouns that refer to things that we can count.  

In a previous lesson, you learned the plural forms of some nouns. For example, we can count "schools, restaurants, cars, spoons, plates, tables," and "chairs". Non-count nouns are nouns that refer to things that we do not count.

For example, we do not count some foods such as "beef, noodles," or "rice" or drinks, such as "coffee, water," or "tea". Although we may count cups of coffee or cups of tea, we do not count the actual substance of the coffee itself.   

We use the question "how many" to ask about the number of countable items. For example, while preparing for dinner guests, David might ask "How many plates do we need?" Jennifer might answer "We need four plates." .

There are also several expressions for indeterminate numbers of countable things. We use the expression "a few" for a small number of things. We use the expression "a lot of" or "many" for a large number of things.

We use the question "how much" to ask about the amount of non-countable substances. For example, while preparing for dinner guests, David might ask "How much beef do we need?"

We use expressions for indeterminate amounts to give information about non-count substances. We use the expression "a little" or "not much" for a small amount.  

We use the expression "a lot of" for a large amount.  We use the expression "some" for a completely indeterminate amount.  In answer to David's question "How much beef do we need?", Jennifer might answer "We need a lot of beef." .

Now that you have a good idea of what these expressions mean, listen to the dialog. In this dialog, David and Jennifer are getting ready for dinner guests.

David:  How many plates do we need?

Jennifer: We need six plates.

David: How much beef do we need?

Jennifer: We need a lot of beef.

David: How much rice do we need?

Jennifer: We need a little rice.

David: How many chairs do we need?

Jennifer: We need a lot of chairs.

Now that you have heard the expressions in the dialog, let us examine the sentences more closely. After David asks "How many plates do we need?", Jennifer answers "We need six plates." Since plates are countable items, David uses the question "how many" to ask about them.

After David asks "How much beef do we need?", Jennifer answers "We need a lot of beef." Because beef is a non-countable substance, David uses the question "how much" to ask about it. Jennifer might also have answered "We need a little rice.", using the indeterminate "a little". She could not have used an exact number, since "beef" is an uncountable substance.

After David asks "How much rice do we need?" , Jennifer answers "We need a little rice." Because rice is a non-countable substance, David uses the question "how much" to ask about it. Jennifer might also have  answered "We need a lot of rice.", using the indeterminate "a lot of". She could not have used an exact number, since "rice" is an uncountable substance.

After David asks "How many chairs do we need?", Jennifer answers "We need a lot of chairs.". Because chairs are countable items, David uses the question "how many" to ask about them. Jennifer could also have answered "We need six chairs.", using an exact number, or "We need a few chairs.", using the indeterminate expression "a few".  

Be aware that the indeterminate "a lot of" can be used with both count and non-count nouns.  Jennifer says "We need a lot of beef."."beef" is a non-count substance. She also says "We need a lot of chairs.". "chairs" are countable items.

Now let us listen to the dialog again. Listen for the usage of "how much" and "how many". Pay attention to the expressions "a lot of" and "a little".

David:  How many plates do we need?

Jennifer: We need six plates.

David: How much beef do we need?

Jennifer: We need a lot of beef.

David: How much rice do we need?

Jennifer: We need a little rice.

David: How many chairs do we need?

Jennifer: We need a lot of chairs.

Outstanding! Your level of understanding in English is increasing with very lesson. The concept of count and non-count nouns is an important concept in English, and you will have the opportunity to practice it many times in future lessons. Rehearse the concept in your mind, and begin using the questions "how much" and "how many" in your English conversations.