Can you really have too much cake? Using “too much”, “too many” or “a lot” in English Grammar

Too much Too Many

I often hear English learners misuse the phrases “Too Many” or “Too Much.” As in:

“I have too many family.”

“We have too much food at home.”

“That park is great, they have too many swings and slides!”

Misusing this phrase can drastically change the meaning of your sentence, and may even communicate the opposite of what you wanted, so let’s take a look at why this aspect of English Grammar is important.

English Grammar: Too Many – We use “too many” with count nouns. That is, we use it with words that we could count with numbers. I.e., “Too many books” “Too many bugs” “Too many students.”

English Grammar:  Too Much – We use “too much” with non-count nouns. That is, we use it with words that we can not count with numbers. For example, “Too much coffee” “Too much rain” “Too much water.”

Many English learners that come to Confidence Learning Services understand that much, but here’s where it gets tricky.

We only use “Too Many” or “Too Much” when talking about something in a negative way.

When talking about something in a positive way, we instead use “A lot of” or “Lots of.”

Let’s look at some examples of this English grammar issue.

 English Grammar Knoxville

 English Grammar Knoxville
My mom gave me too much food.

My mom gave me a lot of food.

 

 English Grammar Knoxville

 English Grammar Knoxville
The library has too many books.

The library has a lot of books.

 

 English Grammar Knoxville

English
There are too many people at the beach.

There are a lot of people at the beach.


One serious English Grammar error I often hear is people saying, “There are too many Egyptians in Nashville,” or, “California has too many Korean people.” To an English speaking listener, these statements sound offensive or racist, like the person who is saying them hates Egyptian or Korean people. But often, the speakers themselves are Egyptian or Korean! The sentences they should have used are, “There are lots of Egyptians in Nashville,” or “California has a lot of Korean people.”

 

And remember, the opposite of this phrase is “Not enough,” and often combined with a version of “do”.

 

 English Grammar Knoxville  English Grammar Knoxville  English Grammar Knoxville

My mom didn’t give me enough food.

The library doesn’t have enough books.

There aren’t enough people at the beach.

 Want more help with your English grammar? Do you want to learn exactly which errors are holding you back in English? Contact Confidence Learning Services today at 1-865-226-9477 to schedule a free, 20 minute English consultation via Skype. 

by Laura Brewer