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Thread: Much or Many

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

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    Re: Much or Many

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    It seems to me that Ss would simply read that as being 100% "okay" if not provided with further explanation. I wouldn't have left that as an example.
    Good point. The pink portion is for you.

    zhongshan, sentence [1] is ungrammatical (Please note, the symbol * represents an ungrammatical sentence).

    [1] *There wasn't many person there.

    There reason it's ungrammatical is this, 'many' modifies plural nouns, but in [1] it's modifying a singular noun, notably 'person'.

    Sentence [1] is called an existential there sentence: the word 'there' functions as a structural subject. That is, every sentence must have a subject, so words like 'There' and 'It' fit that constraint. They don't really mean anything; they simply hold the subject position in the structure; that's why they're called structural subjects.

    Now, with existential there sentences, the true subject comes after the verb. I've underlined the true subject in [2],

    [2] There weren't many people there

    We know if 'many people' is the true subject if we can use it to replace "There", like this,

    [3] Many people weren't there.
    [4] Many people were not there.

    In [3], 'Many people' agrees in number with the contracted form "weren't"; Example [4] gives the non-contracted form; the subject is in agreement with the verb "were", not the adverb "not".

    Going back to question 10, provided again as [1], below, the problem is evident once we replace 'There' with the true subject

    [1] *There wasn't many person there. => *Many person wasn't there.

    The subject is 'person', it's singular in number, as is the contracted verb-adverb "wasn't". They agree , so that's not the problem. The problem is the word 'Many'. It modifies 'person', a singular noun. The correct form should be,

    [5] There were many people there.

    Here's some context for you:

    Max: How many people were at concert?
    Sam: There were many people there.
    Pat: What are you talking about? There weren't many people there!
    Sam: Many people were there!
    Pat: Many people were not there! (emphasis on 'not there')
    Max: I'm sorry I asked the question.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    Re: Much or Many

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    Is "canonical structure" another way of saying "but it's technically correct" in this particular case?
    Actually, it refers to the sentence's base structure.

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    We may call this a "canonical structure", but I don't see that as meaning anything to Ss.
    Good point. I believe the term 'canonical structure' was in response to your post, not the student's. My apologies for using grammatical terminology. I will make it a point to use "friendlier" language next time I reply to your posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    One does observe the rules and one needs to observe the rules when speaking about correct and incorrect language. However, the rules are not where it all ends. There's more to it than that at times.
    Right. Time is also required. I should have taken the time to explain my sentences.

    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    And, by the way, as I said beginning the sentence with "many" could be okay if there were more context to justify it.
    Yes. I am aware of that. In fact, I have it right here:
    Quote Originally Posted by X Mode
    Many people were not there. mm ... - I wouldn't use that unless there were additional information in context which would be understood by both speaker and listener. Not knowing whether or not that is the case in this example, I'd have to give a "thumbs-down" to this particular sentence.
    Context, as you noted, is everything, yes. I agree. So let's focus on that; let's get back to the topic of this thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by zhongshan
    Question 10: There wasn't many person there. This is correct.
    Leave Blank

    I was questioning the validity of the statement. I believe "There wasn't many person there." has to be revised before the many or much question can be addressed.
    In other words, is "There wasn't many person there" grammatical or not? I trust you'll read my responses. By the way, I seemed to have missed your response to zhongshan's question. If you feel my responses or anyone else's responses are not up to par, why not provide a better solution? Knowledge is power, right? Discussion is important, but so is sticking to the poster's original question. It'd be beneficial if you could involve the poster in your responses. This is zhongshan's thread.

    If you'd like to talk about grammar that isn't directly related to a given post or is directly related but doesn't involve the poster's participation, please feel free to send me a private message or an email. I look forward to hearing from you, as I am sure the posters would, too.

    All the best,

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