Here is such a sentence on a workbook for middle-school students in China:

Because they think taking too much car is bad for the environment.

I suspect the use of “taking too much car” here is Chinglish and would not be acceptable to native English speakers.

But another Chinese teacher said that the noun car here could be understood as an abstract noun, and therefore could be modified by too much.

So I wonder what you native speakers think of the sentence. Do English-speaking people speak that way?

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    "taking too much car" is not idiomatic English. People just don't say that ever. In context the correct statement is most likely 'they think taking the car too much is bad...'.
    – Mitch
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 17:11
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    It is actually possible to say "taking too much car" and have it make sense in English, but such an occasion would be hardly likely arise. For example, if you and I bought a car together and agreed to share its use equally, and then you began to use more than your share, I could accuse you of "taking too much car"—but that would be a metaphorical usage at best and even then it would sound odd (though fine for stylistic emphasis), and the more likely expressions would involve you using the car too much, etc. Speak those words with a foreign accent and people will assume an error.
    – Robusto
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 17:41
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    By the way, that's a sentence fragment. Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 20:46
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    When I saw just the question, I thought that it was about an obese individual hogging the back seat. And even in that context, I wanted to add the word "up," as in "taking up too much car." Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 1:03
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    @SimonKuang: It is not, actually. The Chinese expression for driving a car is 开车 kāichē (lit. ‘open car’), and the corresponding Chinese phrase, 开太多车 kāi tài duō chē means ‘driving too many cars’, rather than ‘using the car too much’. Commented Jul 15, 2013 at 17:02

4 Answers 4


You can say:

I take too much coffee


She takes too much time

However the expression: take car is really rare and as Mitch correctly pointed out it is not idiomatic. Native speakers would not normally say this. I fail to see how "car" could be interpreted as an abstract noun as one Chinese teacher suggested. You can however say

Take the car out for a drive."

This is easily understood and does not sound odd at all. Taking too much the car out for a drive sounds stilted; personally, I would never use it. If the speaker (or school text book in this case) wishes to communicate the opinion that the frequency in which cars are used is toxic for our health then something along the lines of

Because they think taking the car too often is bad/harmful for the environment.

is I believe, more natural sounding.


I don't think English supports this type of usage. In your context, taking cars sounds incorrect. Seems like a car is being taken from someone (as if the car is such a small/portable-by-hand object). Car being used as an abstract noun is uncommon. In fact, I have never come across any such usage.

In English, this sentence can be modified as:

Because they think using too many cars is bad for the environment.

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    You can take the car downtown.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 17:27
  • Yes, in your context, it sounds just perfect! I think I should modify my answer.
    – Wonder
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 17:33
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    The problem is that things like “take the car” do not allow an adverb to be injected between them like that. One can take the car too much, but one cannot take too much the car.
    – tchrist
    Commented Jul 14, 2013 at 17:34

The problem here is that too much is equally happy to function as both an adjective and an adverb, depending on placement. When you say “take too much car”, it’s like “taking too much whiskey”: it becomes an adjective applying to the noun that follows it.

To make it an adverb, you have to move it to a place that adjectives don’t usually go, which leads to “taking the car too much”.


I can say

A Cadillac Escalade is too much car for me.

because it's too large, and has too many luxury features, so I'd rather drive a simpler car.

But when it comes to taking the car, I can't take a little bit of car or a lot of car. I can only drive exactly one car at a time, so I have to either take the car or not take a car at all.

As others have pointed out, the phrase you probably want is

Taking the car too much is bad for the environment.

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