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A lot of water

Can I say “a lot of water”? Could “a lot of” be used for uncountable nouns? In other words, could “a lot of” be used to substitute both “many” and “much”?

  • November 10, 2002
  • Posted by Dyske
  • Filed in Grammar

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Many suggests distinct objects.
"There are many people here."
"There are many grains of sand on the beach."
"There are many rivers."

Much is used to express quantity of one type of object. You wouldn't say "How much dollars is too much?" but you would say "How much money is too much?"

"A lot of" can be used to mean "much" in a sense, though it carries a slightly different connotation. "A lot of" carries a more subjective tone, while "much" has to be qualified by 'too' in order to use it in the same context.

"The Pacific Ocean contains a lot of water."
"The Pacific Ocean contains too much water."

yoinkmydanish November 11, 2002, 11:15am

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May I offer a slight emendation to that?

"Much" and "a lot of" are synonyms, though "much" is getting to be a tad archaic. It survives in forms like "has much to offer."

"Too much" and "a lot of" are not synonyms. "Too much" signifies excess, superfluity; whereas "a lot of" just means "a lot of", without any judgement about whether it's an appropriate quantity.

Dariensan's explanation of "much" vs. "many" is entirely correct.

tnh March 17, 2003, 6:21pm

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My apologies to the previous posters, who I know are trying to help, but they are wrong. 'much' is only used to modify singular, not plural nouns. 'There is much water here.', is ok, 'There is much lakes here.' is not. The phrase 'a lot of', on the other hand, can be used in either circumstance. Nor do I think that much is quite archaic yet - much of the time people make up their own statistics. haha.

owl March 19, 2003, 2:01pm

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"much/many", as i understand them, are preferred in negative statements and question forms. eg; "there isn't much water/there aren't many apples/are there many apples?"
"alot of/lots of" are preferred in affirmative statements.
of course, there are obvious deviations to this in practice.

blend February 27, 2004, 11:10pm

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Don't forget that the construction "There is too much water here" is also correct and contains "much." "Many waters" is a Biblical usage that I think was intended to translate a passage that actually meant "many bodies of water."

speedwell2 March 1, 2004, 3:35am

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A lot of right?

FAST January 4, 2006, 9:18am

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When shall I use "a lot of" and when "lots of"?
Is it "lots of words" or "a lot of words"? "Lots of fun" or "a lot of fun"? Does it has to do with countable and uncountable?
Thanks "a lot"! :)

norabasualdo September 21, 2006, 11:19am

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As I understand it, there is no difference between "a lot of" and "lots of". They are completely interchangeable in my book. It has nothing to do with being countable.

Dima September 22, 2006, 2:37pm

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Yes     No