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GMAT Idiom: Many vs. Much
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The difference between the proper use of the words "many" and "much" is the same as the difference between "less" and "fewer." One refers to things that can be counted; the other refers to things that can't.
The word "many" is used to modify something that can be counted. For instance, there are many articles on this site. Many students will be taking the GMAT this week. Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs have many reasons to complain.
The same principle applies to to comparisons, which use the words "many more." For example: "Many more business schools accept the GMAT than the GRE." The rule is the same (items must be countable), except that it's a comparison when the word "more" is introduced.
The word "much" is used when you're modifying something that can't be counted. You might say, "I don't have much aptitude for science," or "Ellen doesn't have as much talent as Franke does."
When considering whether something is countable, be very literal. You can't count "aptitudes" or "talents." You might be able to measure them in some way (perhaps test scores or external ratings), but unless you can literally count the word used, use "much."
A Subtle Distinction
Here's an example of the difference:
- With only one day left before his GMAT, Kevin didn't have much time left to study.
- With only one day left before his GMAT, Kevin didn't have many hours left to study.
The only difference is "time" and "hours." While time can be measured (in hours, minutes, etc.), you can't count "times." You can, however, count hours. Understanding this distinction is crucial to mastering the subtleties of GMAT grammar.
About the author: Jeff Sackmann has written many GMAT preparation books, including the popular Total GMAT Math, Total GMAT Verbal, and GMAT 111. He has also created explanations for problems in The Official Guide, as well as 1,800 practice GMAT math questions.
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The comprehensive guide to the GMAT Verbal section. Recognize, dissect, and master every question type
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