How much / many money does it cost?

Which one?
How Much or How Many?. Ron Krisel/Getty Images

The choice between how much and how many when speaking about money is usually is how much:

How much does the book cost? 
How much do the toys cost?

How much can also be used with the verb to be to ask about a price:

How much is it?
How much are the apples? 

How much is used to ask about how much money something costs. Money is an example of a noncount noun. How much is always used with a noncount noun in questions.

However, if the question concerns a specific unit of a currency use how many:

How many dollars does the house cost?
How many euros do you need for lunch?
How many pesos can you afford?

Countable or Uncountable?

The choice between how much or how many always depends on whether the noun which follows how much or how many is countable or noncount. In English, how much is often combined with noncount qualities known as abstractions. These are common words such as time, patience, and fun. Here are some examples:

How much knowledge do you have about the subject?
How much help did he give you last week?
How much advice would you like?

Other categories of noncount nouns include:

  • Activities: housework, music, socializing, etc.
  • Food types: meat, beef, pork, fish, etc.
  • Groups of items: luggage, baggage, furniture, software, etc. 
  • Liquids: juice, water, alcohol, etc.
  • Materials: wood, steel, leather, etc. 

When asking for the quantity of any of these items, make sure to use how much:

How much luggage did you take with you on vacation?
How much alcohol did you drink?
How much pork should I buy?
How much homework do you have?

How Many is used with countable nouns. These nouns are easy to recognize because they generally end in the plural form with s

How many books are there on the shelf?
How many days did it take you to finish the project?
How many computers do you have?

There are a number of important exceptions to this rule including:

  • man -> men
  • woman -> women
  • child -> children
  • person -> people
  • tooth -> teeth
  • foot -> feet

How many teeth has your child lost?
How many children came to class yesterday?
How many people joined the cause?

Containers / Measurements

When speaking about food types and liquids, it's a good idea to use containers or measurements if you're looking for an exact measurement. In this case, use how many to ask a question:

Containers:

How many bottles of wine should I buy?
How many boxes of rice should I get?
How many jars of jam do you have?

Measurements:

How many gallons of gas did you use on your trip?
How many cups of butter do I need for this recipe?
How many pounds of sand should I mix into the cement?

Answering How Much and How Many Questions

To provide an answer to a how much or how many question, you can provide exact amounts for both questions:

How much does the book cost? - It's twenty dollars.
How many people came to the party? - There were more than 200 people there!
How much pasta should I buy? - I think we need three boxes.

To provide approximate answers, use one of the following expressions. Note that there are slight differences between countable and noncount answers:

A lot of

Use a lot of with both countable and noncount nouns which are followed by the noun in the answer:

How much rice do we have? - We have a lot of rice.
How many friends did you make on vacation? - I made a lot of friends.

Use a lot for both countable and noncount nouns without a noun:

How much time do you have today? - I have a lot.
How many cars have you had in your life? - I've had a lot.

Some

Use some with both countable and noncount nouns:

How much money do you have? - I have some money, but not much.
How many apples are on the table? - There are some apples on the table.

A Few / A Little

Use a few with countable nouns and a little with noncount nouns:

How much fun did you have? - I had a little fun last night.
How many glasses did you drink? - I drank a few glasses of wine.

How Much / How Many Quiz

Use much or many to fill in the gap of these questions: 

  1. How _____ does the juice cost?
  2. How _____ people are employed at your company?
  3. How _____ time do you have to listen to my story?
  4. How _____ are the shoes?
  5. How _____ beef should I buy at the supermarket?
  6. How _____ cars have you owned in your life?
  7. How _____ patience do I need to learn English?
  8. How _____ information can you give me about Australia?
  9. How _____ days are there this month?
  10. How _____ help do you need this weekend?

Answers:

  1. much
  2. many
  3. much
  4. much
  5. much
  6. many
  7. much
  8. much
  9. many
  10. much