For much:


An understanding of a sentence - much + adverb

Is "very much" an adverb or an adjective?

But it still doesn't explain how "much" as an adverb, can be used or not used.

It read that you would say "You worry too much", but not "You worry much".
Not being used alone with a verb.

It's said here:

Warning: We don’t use much in affirmative clauses:
I hadn’t seen my mother for a month. I’d missed her a lot.
Not: … I’d missed her much.

We use much in questions and negative clauses to talk about degrees of something. We put it in end position:
I don’t like the sea much.


I've found this in many other forums/sites:


People just don't use "much" in positive statements, Madagascar. I'm not sure there is any special reason for this practice, but grammar rules are often arbitrary. You certainly have the right idea about when and when not to use "much".

I'm really surprised, because I've heard many native English speakers that don't know this rule.

So, is this rule applied only by Cambridge?

  • 5
    Much and many are close to being Negative Polarity Items for many speakers. The phrases not much and not many are extremely common fixed expressions. Jan 15, 2020 at 16:46
  • 1
    It's odd. "I had not missed her much." But not "I had missed her much." Seems like the claim is that "not much" is some kind of compound that must not be split. Heh! Sounds very Canadian. "How much beer have you got?" "Not much, eh?"
    – puppetsock
    Jan 15, 2020 at 16:48
  • 1
    'too much' is also common. 'I missed her so much it was almost too much to bear!' Jan 15, 2020 at 16:54
  • 1
    I'm sorry but this is instinctive with English speakers. They may not know the rule but they know you don't say: You worry much. I don't like lemonade much. I don't play cards much. There's the adverb.
    – Lambie
    Jan 15, 2020 at 17:09
  • 1
    The biggest message for learners here is, “Don’t learn rules, learn idiom”. Don’t just study rules in textbooks, you must read widely and listen widely too. You’ll learn so much! Feb 14, 2020 at 5:20

2 Answers 2


Folks have pointed out that "much" is close to being a negative polarity item, but I don't think that's quite it.

The truth is that "much" can be used in positive statements too. The thing is that it just is never really used anywhere "bare", without some additional qualifier.

You can, however, use things like "so much", "very much", etc in positive statements:

I missed her so much! I'm really glad she's back.
He liked to run very much.
I slept way too much.

So I think the real trick here is just that "much" doesn't ever really show up by itself anywhere. It always has some other word with it to specify the degree of "muchness".

The only difference with negative statements is that, the "not" of "not much" is already elsewhere in the sentence (or sometimes just implied by the negative context), so that's the one place where it can show up by itself, because its other part is already in the sentence, so having two "not"s would be redundant or sound like a double-negative.


I have always thought it's okay to say that I like something very much, which is a positive statement using "much." To further elucidate, I will examine some of the examples I found in the links in your question.

Stack Exchange Quotes

You’re driving much fast. 1

I am very much tired.

She is very much clever. 2

Someone asked if native English speakers know what you're saying. Yes, we understand what you're saying, but using "much" that way instantly marks you are an English learner. For some reason, when one says it like that, "much" indicates a quantity, e.g. half a cup of fast, two bowls of tired, or a book of clever. Doesn't sound right, somehow. I don't know if there is a grammatical rule for it or not.

Cambridge Dictionary

I hadn’t seen my mother for a month. I’d missed her a lot.

Not: … I’d missed her much. 3

I hate to disagree with a dictionary but I see a discrepancy here. They put a word in front of "lot" but not in front of "much."

It's wrong to say "I'd missed her much," but it's also wrong to say "I'd missed her lot."

It's normal to say "I'd missed her a lot," and it's also normal to say "I'd missed her very much."

I think those two sentences say the exact same thing. The second sentence correctly uses "much" to make a positive statement.

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