It's common knowledge that 'many' is generally used with countable nouns in questions and negative sentences whereas 'a lot of' is preferable in statements, at least in everyday English. Does this rule also work in sentences with time related nouns?
I saw him many years ago.
Many days passed before she realized what she had done.
I can't make myself use 'a lot of' in these examples; I'd be garteful if any of the native speakers commented on this.
Thank you in advance.