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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
  • 4 comments

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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 @ 4:15PM

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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 @ 11:21PM

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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 @ 8:35AM

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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"! :)
Nora

norabasualdo September 21, 2006 @ 3:19PM

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