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Much and Many

In English we use the words MUCH and MANY to show that there is a large amount of something. "Much" is used with uncountable nouns and "many" is used with countable nouns. (In the last 2 blog posts we looked at countable and uncountable nouns in more detail)
Check the following examples:

"There is too MUCH smoke in this restaurant."
"There are MANY people smoking."

Smoke is uncountable so we use MUCH. People is the plural form of person, which is a countable noun, so we use MANY. (When we use many we need to use the plural form of the noun.)

If you are not sure if the noun needs MUCH or MANY I have good news! A LOT has the same meaning, "a large amount of something" and we can use it with both countable and uncountable nouns.

"There is A LOT of smoke in this restaurant."
"There are A LOT of people smoking."
Both of these sentences are okay, but don't forget to add OF!

*It is unusual to use MUCH in positive sentences, A LOT is better.
"I spent MUCH money." this is not natural. "I spent A LOT of money." This is the best choice for this sentence.

"There is A LOT OF smoke in this coffee shop!"

Countable nouns pt.2

We learned from the last blog that we don't use A or AN with uncountable nouns. But don't forget that we can't use a countable noun by itself the same way we can for an uncountable noun. For example: "My friend takes the bus everywhere, he hasn't got car." INCORRECT
"I need some more water." CORRECT

Water is not countable so we don't need to use "A." BUT cars are countable so we need "A" when we talk about 1 car.
"My friend takes the bus everywhere, he hasn't got A car." CORRECT

A countable noun doesn't need "A" every time, but it can't be used by itself. Examples:
"This is my car." "That looks like Kevin's car in the parking lot." "The blue car looks better than the black one."

In the example sentence "I need some more water." we used SOME before water. We can use the word some with both countable and uncountable nouns, but don't forget that countable nouns need to end with S if you use them with some. "I saw some cool cars when I was at the auto show!"

Countable and Uncountable nouns

In an earlier blog I talked about how to use A, AN and THE. We learned that A and AN mean 1.
A banana = 1 banana      An apple = 1 apple
We use A and AN with nouns we can count (bananas, books etc.), but we don't use them with nouns we can't count. (water, music etc.)

Today I want look at countable and uncountable nouns in more detail. If you can understand the difference between these 2 kinds of nouns it will be easier to use them naturally in English conversation. It will also help you to understand more parts of  English grammar.

A common mistake students make is trying to use A or AN with uncountable nouns.
"I heard a good music yesterday at Tower records." INCORRECT
"I heard a good song yesterday." CORRECT
A song is countable, we can count them. This CD has 8 new songs. Music is not countable. We don't say 4 musics. A correct sentence would be:
"I heard good music yesterday at Tower records." Not A good music.

Examples of nouns we can't count:
water  - I would like some more water please. (We can't count liquids like juice, paint etc.)
sand - I went to the beach and got sand in my shoes.
rice - This rice is too sticky! (Rice and sand are many small things in a group so we can't say "a sand or a rice)
money - I wish I had more money! (A dollar we can count, 3 dollars. Money we can't, 3 monies)
electricity - My cottage doesn't have electricity

Next is part 2...

To Go =>

We use to when we use the verb GO if we are going to a place, a location, work etc.
"I went to Shibuya on Sunday." 
"I go to work by train."
"Let's go to the park and have a picnic!"
We don’t use to when we go HOME, HERE or THERE. 
“We went there last week.” (Not to there
“It’s time to go home.” (Not to home)
"I told him to come here by 6:00 so we could watch the movie." (Not to here)

"Jim went to the concert last night."     "I went there too! It was great!"

"A", "an" and "the"

Not all languages use articles (a, an, the) and some don't use them the same way they are used in English. Lets look at how we use them with some examples to help.

"A" and "an" mean 1, so we only use these with nouns we can count. 1 pen, 3 pens for example. I have "a" pen means I have 1 pen. It is also not specific, a pen could be any pen. Because "a" means 1 it is incorrect to say "I have a 3 pens." If the noun is plural (more than 1) we don't use a. We only use A or AN when we are talking about 1 thing. We use "an" with words that start with a vowel (A, E, I, O, U) or  a vowel sound. For example the word "hour" does not begin with a vowel (the first letter is "h") but the sound is like the letter "O" so we say "an hour." 1 hour. Here are a few more examples:
"He is an honest guy." "This is an historic building. It was built 280 years ago."

In English we use a for things we haven’t talked about yet, or things in general. We use the for things we have already talked about, or things that are specific. For example: “I went to a restaurant in Shinjuku last Friday.” This means any restaurant, one of many in  Shinjuku. 
“I went to the sushi restaurant next to the convenience store in front of Takadanobaba station.” This is specific and only can mean one restaurant. We can see in this sentence that we use the for convenience store because it is also specific, the convenience store is the one in front of Takadanobaba.

Study Tip

Here is study tip that I hope will be helpful for you when studying English with this blog. 
It is good to use any new words or phrases as soon as possible after you learn them. If you don’t have many chances to speak English you can write some practices sentences with any new words. 
It is also good to change the subject to make it more personal for you. 
For Example- if I learn ”Hiromi and Kentaro went to Italy. “ I would write a practice sentence like ”My wife and I went to Hakone.” This uses the correct grammar but it's also a real experience for me so the phrase is easy to remember. I don't know Hiromi or Kentaro so I don't really care if they went to Italy, I have never even been there! I find this helpful in my own Japanese study, I hope it can help you too!

Let's enjoy studying English!!

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