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    #1

    Question Do we say how much or how many for 'fumes'

    In the context of 'fumes' being emitted from an engine of some sort, I'm struggling with the concept of countable/uncountable.

    Having looked at several on-line dictionaries, I've become even more confused. There seems to be a specific definition referring to fumes as solid chemical particles within a gas, but another treating it as a more general noun, just meaning a smelly gas.
    What am I missing?
    As a countable plural, I can see how the question 'How many fumes?' could refer to counting the number of different chemicals or solids in the emitted gases, but I can't see how this relates to being able to measure 'fumes' more generally e.g. in terms of volume?
    Finally, would the answer be different for the noun 'emissions'?

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    #2

    Re: Do we say how much or how many for 'fumes'

    Hi JudithJ, and welcome to the forum.
    I wouldn't use "how much/many" with either "fumes" or "emissions."
    Can you show us the (full) sentence you're struggling with?

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    #3

    Re: Do we say how much or how many for 'fumes'

    Neither how much nor how many works with fumes. You can't quantify fumes so neither question can be answered; how much requires a bulk answer like "ten gallons", and how many requires a number like "a hundred and eighty". Since neither class of answer is possible, neither of the questions is either.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: Do we say how much or how many for 'fumes'

    The word fumes doesn't really have a specific definition since it's not an academic word and so wouldn't be used by somebody wanting to make a measurement.

    The academic word I think you want is emissions, which although plural and countable grammatically, cannot be quantified. The word, that is.

    What you can quantify is how much of some particular substance has been emitted, for example carbon. You could say, for example, "1000 tons of carbon was emitted".

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    #5

    Re: Do we say how much or how many for 'fumes'

    Quote Originally Posted by teechar View Post
    Hi JudithJ, and welcome to the forum.
    I wouldn't use "how much/many" with either "fumes" or "emissions."
    Can you show us the (full) sentence you're struggling with?
    Thank you.
    A French Quality Control manager in a factory that makes engines asked me whether, in English, we would say ' how many fumes come from this engine?' Or 'How much fumes come from this engine?"
    As both options sounded incorrect to me, I said I would try to get him a definitive answer.

    I think he is actually trying to talk about measuring emissions in terms of volume.

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    #6

    Re: Do we say how much or how many for 'fumes'

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    The word fumes doesn't really have a specific definition since it's not an academic word and so wouldn't be used by somebody wanting to make a measurement.

    The academic word I think you want is emissions, which although plural and countable grammatically, cannot be quantified. The word, that is.

    What you can quantify is how much of some particular substance has been emitted, for example carbon. You could say, for example, "1000 tons of carbon was emitted".
    Your response makes sense to me, thank you. I hadn't considered the difference between something being grammatically countable whilst not being quantifiable.

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