I'm teaching students quantifiers and need a bit of help with this example.

There's much traffic at this time of day. Is this incorrect? My feeling is that it's grammatically correct but yes, does feel a little strange.

I lean more towards 'There's a lot of traffic at this time...' being the correct answer but I'm unsure why it's 'more' correct than 'there's much traffic.....'

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    How are you defining 'correct' in this case? May 28, 2020 at 8:17
  • Correct meaning 'my gut feeling'. My (perhaps limited) understanding is that you can use both 'much' and 'a lot of' with uncountable nouns. Is there a rule or reason that I'm missing as to why one is more natural or appropriate than the other? May 28, 2020 at 8:20

1 Answer 1


You are right in having suspicions about much in There's much traffic at this time of day. Swan in the entry on much and many in Practical English Usage (page 332) says:

In an informal style, we use much and many mostly in questions and negative clauses. In most affirmative clauses they are unusual (especially much); other words and expressions are used instead. ...

In a formal style, much and many are more common in affirmative clauses.

So in your case, the informal affirmative usage is There's a lot of traffic at this time....

In a negative sentence or question much is common, but in informal contexts its alternative a lot of is probably equally so:

  • There's not much / a lot of traffic at this time.
  • Is there much / a lot of traffic at this time?

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