The issue concerning the use of indefinite pronouns, namely the use of much, many, few, little, a lot of, plenty, is quite relevant, since these words are often used in everyday speech and in writing. Let’s just think about it. We rarely specify the exact time or exact measure of something not often determine the exact distance or quantity. Instead, we prefer to saturate our speech with the words «little» and «a lot», «few» and «a little».
In Russian, there is no significant difference in the use of much, many, few, little, a lot of, plenty. But the English language, with its abundance of countable and uncountable nouns offers us options for use of a word. Moreover, it is not just the options and clearly defined laws and characteristics, which is not desirable to break if you want to become literate speech. Therefore, I propose to touch the cases and situations in which you need to use every particular word, and not only learn the theoretical material, but also to compare it with clear examples to help you easily remember this chapter of English grammar.
What is the proper use of much, many, few, little, a lot of, plenty?
If we look at the translation, we will find that in this group there are both words for a small amount, and the words that define a large number. Here’s what happens: much / many / a lot of (lots of) / plenty of — a lot, few / little — a little small.
- The difference between the words much and many is that the first is used with uncountable nouns, and the second — with countable. The same feature applies to the words of opposing much and many. The company aspires to much pronoun little, which is added to the uncountable nouns; and many of the company few, necessary for countable nouns.
much work, much time, much water — a lot of work, a lot of time, a lot of water;
many friends, many people, many books — many friends, a lot of people, a lot of books;
little ink, little money, little energy — a little ink, little money, little energy (some);
few cars, few countries, few problems — a few cars, a number of countries, several issues.
- Pronouns are a lot of, lots of, plenty of (many, plenty — more than enough), you can use the equivalent with uncountable nouns and plural countable. Therefore, if you do not know for sure which group of nouns include the word you used, and therefore can not choose between much and many, turned their attention to this point in the listed words.
Steve drinks a lot of milk every — one litre a day. — Steve drinks a lot of milk, a liter a day.
A lot of people do not like flying. — Many people do not like to fly.
She’s got no financial problems. She’s got plenty of money. — She does not have financial problems, she has a lot of money (more than enough).
- In some cases it is better to use every word? For example, pronouns much and many more desirable in negative and interrogative sentences. As a synonym of those words in an affirmative sentence, we use a lot of. But despite the fact that much in affirmative sentences — a phenomenon quite unusual and not often note that, if he make a company such words as too / very / so / how / as (too much, very much, so much , how much, as much), we can safely consume much in affirmative sentences.
We’ll have to hurry. We have not got much time. — We must hurry. Time a little.
We did not take many photographs when we were on vacation. — During the holidays, we are not a lot of pictures.
Have you got many friends? — Do you have a lot of friends?
I put a lot of salt in the soup. — I put a lot of salt in the soup.
I can not drink this coffee. There’s too much sugar in it. — I can not drink this coffee, it has a lot of sugar.
- The words of little and few, that no indefinite article (translated as — a little small), have a negative connotation. This is clearly expressed in those cases when we want to say that we have «a little, not enough of anything.»
You will not be a good teacher. You’ve got little patience with children. — You will not be a good teacher. You do not have the patience to work with children.
This city does not have a lot of sights so few tourists come here. — In this town a little sightseeing, so here comes few tourists.
These same words, followed by the indefinite article a more positive group as compared with the previous case. These we call when we want to say that «something small, but enough is enough.»
We did not have any money but you had a little. — We do not have any money, but you had a little bit (= we have enough).
She does not speak much Russian. Only a few words. — It is not very fluent in Russian, knows only a few words (= enough to be understood).
Would you like some tea? Yes, but only a little. — Will the tea? Yes, just a little bit (= enough to try, for example).
I’ve got a few friends, so I’m not lonely. — I have a few friends, so I’m not alone (= let a little, but they are still there).
But the meeting expressing only a little and only a few, we must again remember the negative connotation of these words.
I have only a few books on this subject. — I have a few books on the subject (= they are, but not enough for me).
We’ve only got a little time, we may miss the train. — We have very little time, we can miss the train (= not enough time).
As we can see, there is nothing particularly complicated about this topic is not. One has only to remember, with some nouns and in what types of sentences used much, many, little, few, a lot of and plenty.