We use much and little with uncountable nouns:
much time much luck little energy little money
We use many and few with plural nouns:
many friends many people few cars few countries
We use a lot of / lots of / plenty of with both uncountable and plural nouns:
a lot of luck lots of time plenty of money a lot of friends lots of people plenty of ideas
Plenty = more than enough:
– There’s no need to hurry. We’ve got plenty of time.
Much is unusual in positive sentences (especially in spoken English). Compare:
– We didn’t spend much monty.
but We spend a lot of money. (not We spent much money)
- Do you see David much?
but I see David a lot. (not I see David much)
We use many, a lot of, and lots of in all kinds of sentences:
– Many people drive too fast. or A lot of / Lots of people drive too fast.
– Do you know many people? or Do you know a lot of / lots of people?
– There aren’t many tourists here. or There aren’t a lot of tourists here.
Note that we say many years / many weeks / many days (not a lot of …):
– We’ve lived here for many years. (not a lot of years)
Little and few (without a) are negative ideas (= not much / not many):
– Gary is very busy with his job. He has little time for other things.
(= not much time, less time than be would like)
- Vicky doesn’t like living in Paris. She has few friends there.
(= not many, not as many as she would like)
You can say very little and very few:
– Gary has very little time for other things.
– Vicky has very few friends in Paris.
A little and a few have a more positive meaning.
A little = some, a small amount:
– Let’s go and get something to drink. We have a little time before the train leaves.
(a little time = some time, enough time to have something to drink)
– “Do you speak English?” “A little.” (so we can talk to each other)
A few = some, a small number:
– I enjoy my life here. I have a few friends, and we get together pretty often.
(a few friends = not many but enough to have a good time)
– “When was the last time you saw Claire?” “A few days ago.” (= some days ago)
– He spoke little English, so it was difficult to communicate with him.
– He spoke a little English, so we were able to communicate with him.
– She’s lucky. She has few problems. (= not many problems)
– Things are not going to well for her. She has a few problems. (= some problems)
You can say only a little and only a few:
– Hurry! We have only a little time. (not only little time)
– The town was very small. There were only a few streets. (not only few streets)