'Much' + countable nouns?


Too much lines
How much pages

I know that, strictly speaking, this is not good English, at all.

But I have an impression :slight_smile: that sometimes it allows to make emphasis not on ‘exact quantity’ (not asking for numerical values as with standard form ‘how many’), but just to qualify the total amount of something, roughly. Often - in compare with some ‘nominal nicks’, with sometimes subjective, but understandable.

What do you think about use of much + countable nouns?

Hi Tamara,

I think there are some much + countable noun expressions that are just colloquial (rather than “bad” English). For example, the current song by Lauryn Hill is called “So much things to say”.
Let’s see how much things our language experts have to so on this.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: A flooded house[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Tamara,

Much + countable nouns is anathema to me.


[size=75]Need I say more?[/size] 8)


My deepest apologies to you both…
Sorry for hurting your feelings :slight_smile:


Expressions like “so much things to say” might be bad or incorrect English and they can cause a lot of headaches for English teachers. Why? Well, although they are incorrect, they exist. You probably remember a singer by the name of Bob Marley? His parents were British, they came from Sussex. I guess Bob Marley spoke English as his first language but he spoke a special kind of English, Jamaican English. He said things like “No woman, no cry” which means “Don’t cry, woman” and he also said “So much things to say”.

Now another singer, Lauryn Hill whose native language is American English, sings Bob Marley’s song again and millions of people around the world will listen to it. Now, as an English teacher you can say “so much things to say” is a no-no and it’s grammatically wrong. And you will be right. The question is how the kids listening to Lauryn Hill’s song will react to your explanation.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Boats on the beach[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

That’s one of the problems in referring to lyrics for examples of English usage. You need to understand when, where and how the usage might be acceptable. You also hear words in traditional Christmas Carols which are no longer used in standard English.

If someone wants to learn Jamaican English, that’s one thing. But Tamara wasn’t referring to that as far as I could see.

I’m sure that native English speakers occasionally make unintentional errors (for example, they’re thinking of using the uncountable word stuff, but the countable word things accidentally comes out of their mouths instead).

Or occasionally a native speaker may intentionally want to say something incorrectly, for “shock effect”, for example.

Shakespeare also wrote things that would not be used by 99.9% of native speakers of English today. :lol:

For me, the correct usage of much and many is not problematic or difficult in standard British English, American English, Canadian English or Australian English. If someone uses much or many incorrectly, that person runs a very high risk of simply sounding stupid or uneducated — even in an informal situation.

If, however, a person were to determine with 100% certainty that using much with countable nouns was acceptable and standard in the place where they were living and/or working, then the usage might be seen as “safe”.

However, it would be extremely negligent on my part (as an English teacher) to tell someone it’s OK to say “too much things”.


Yes… I agree.
As a language teacher, you say exactly what you have to say, as a teacher. (… And have to say exactly what you actually say. :))

Hi Amy,

I must admit my example is quite far fetched. You are right, there is no standard expression with a “much+uncountable noun” construction. Bob Marley and Lauryn Hill are probably bad advocates when it comes to learning English grammar. As a matter of fact, Bob Marley could have created the phrase “too much things to say” as some kind of protest against certain standards.

As you said, in lyrics you might find all kinds of constructions many of which are non-standard and therefore not acceptable. After all, most people learn English to advance in their careers and not to become pop stars…[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Taking a rest from the hike[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Tamara

There are many regional differences in English and no English teacher can possible know everything about all local usages. There are also many specialized lingos within an industry or even a certain company, for example.

When I am aware of widespread differences between what is prescribed by grammar books and what people actually use, I am not unwilling to inform people about that.
At the same time, you have to keep in mind that there are different registers in every language. There might be certain situations where your idea of saying “too much lines” might accepted. But, because it’s not something that is widespread, I can’t even begin to endorse your using much like that. It would simply sound like an error in the vast majority of situations. And, in my opinion, a “standard” version of the language is “safe” in most situations.

Just think about it. What if I started talking just like Bob Marley sings. What do you suppose the reaction would be? :shock:

Learning when, where and how to possibly deviate from the norm is a much riskier and much more complicated business than sticking to the “standards”. I just don’t see the misuse of much as a good candidate for any type of intentional deviation. Leave that to the rebels and reggae singers (and maybe a handful of grammar-deprived techies. :lol: ;)).


Amy, what do you argue with? (And with whom? :slight_smile: )

I said I agreed with your position here (that was clear enough even before your last post with further explanation).
Sure, I said that with no ‘underlying theme’.

And I admit the rules of the play. :slight_smile:

Yeh Mon. 8)

no problema, mi no lie!

Hi Tamara, where is that phrase from and what does it mean? Looks like Jamaican? Ah, I should know this since I mentioned “too much things to say”…[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Jogging[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten, sorry, I’m not the best interpreter from Jamaican :slight_smile:

As I didn’t know that Amy’s preferred language :slight_smile: I just Googled it and snatched out something that looked as English :slight_smile: from phrases starting with Yeh Mon - in response. To be polite. :slight_smile:


Hi Tamara :lol:

The word “mon” is used to address a man, woman, or child (in short, any person) in Jamaica. “Yeh” just means yes. :wink:

I’d say many (most?) Americans are familiar with the word “mon” but probably wouldn’t use it unless they were trying to sound Jamaican. 8)


So what about mi no lie then? Tamara used that expression in one her posts yesterday.[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Fishing at the ocean shore[YSaerTTEW443543]

Hi Torsten

I’m no expert on Rasta/Patois Jamaican, but I’d say “Mi no lie” means either “I don’t lie” or “I’m not lying”.

Here’s an interesting link:



Amy, the only thing: why Mon is/was capitalised in your case?
(You know, now I’m capitalisation-striken person and just can’t not ask about :))

P.S. Hmm. How to use double negative here correctly ( I can’t not ask - that is exactly what I mean)
or how to avoid it?
I’m unable not to ask? … clumsy…
Aaa-a-a-a… help me, please… :frowning:

Hi Tamara, what about I can’t help but ask?[YSaerTTEW443543]

TOEIC listening, photographs: Farmland[YSaerTTEW443543]