In this conversation, two people are talking about travelling when one of them says the following sentence:

I went to Paris once, but I didn't see MUCH OF the sights.

I think "sights" in this sense is a plural countable noun which means "interesting places"; so shouldn't it be "many of" not "much of"?

  • There's a song - So Much Things to Say – Maulik V May 29 '14 at 8:55
  • Thanks Maulik. But why do you think Bob Marley has used "so much" in his song? – M.N May 29 '14 at 9:06
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    I don't know why Bob Marley wrote his lyrics the way he did, but so much things to say is not grammatical. – Esoteric Screen Name May 29 '14 at 9:18
  • Simple - it's a song. Lyricists are not grammarians! ;) – Maulik V May 29 '14 at 9:22
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    Maybe you're right Maulik but we're not talking about subtle differences and I'm pretty sure that even Bob Marley knew about it quite well. – M.N May 29 '14 at 9:35

You're right, I didn't see many of the sights is correct and means I saw only a few or some of the number of interesting places.

But, I didn't see much of the sights is also correct. The idiom see much of means see frequently (especially in the recent past) or for long periods of time, and is typically used in the negated form. For example, I haven't seen much of my neighbors means I haven't seen my neighbors lately. This is valid even with a countable plural noun such as neighbors.

I didn't see much of the sights means that I spent very little time sightseeing. This means that I took in very little of what they had to offer, and likely (but not necessarily) saw numerically few of them if there were a large number.

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    One small point: "I didn't see much of the sights" doesn't really imply that you saw numerically few of them. For example, you could have made very superficial visits to many places. – David Richerby May 29 '14 at 12:10
  • Indeed, good point. – Esoteric Screen Name May 29 '14 at 15:13

I guess in this context both can go.

If you consider sights like a unique idea of a landscape you may use “much of”, but if you consider sights like places as you described then you may use “many of”.

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This represents only my personal look into this:

much of - not a big part comparing to overall known or maybe assumable count, for example 2-3 places of 20. But there is also a drop of uncertainty in this sentence, because there may be total of 3 of places that can be visited.

This also can mean that visited places didn't reflected expectations, assuming a man visited 10 of 15 known places, but they weren't as exciting as other 5 left

many of - this mainly reflects an actual progress of travelling, because "many" will refer to low count of visited places.

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  • I'd probably use "few of" to describe, say, 2-3 of 20. – jimsug May 29 '14 at 12:50

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