Adjectives like (how) much, many, and very are matched with countable and uncountable nouns when we want to know cost, number, amount, or degree of something.
Much is used with uncountable nouns in questions and negative sentences:
- How much petrol does the tank hold?
- There is not much money left.
Much is also used in informal conversation to mean ‘very often’:
- Do you see Peter much?
- I haven’t seen Peter much.
Many is used with plural countable nouns in questions and negative sentences:
- How many jelly babies are in the jar?
- I don’t know many people here. We are new to the neighborhood.
We can also use many with ‘not’ to mean a small number:
- There are not many people here at this hour.
- Not many people will understand the concept.
You may also hear people say ‘a lot’ or ‘lots of’ in informal conversation when they mean ‘many’:
- We served a lot of food at the event.
- There were lots of sweets and refreshments.
Very is meant for emphasis. When we add very to much, or many, it strengthens the comparative adjective:
- My pet fish doesn’t need very much care (compared to cats or dogs).
- There weren’t very many prizes left (compared to an hour ago).