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Frank started singing along, (much) to the annoyance of Ellen.

Is "much" necessary here or is it OK to leave it out?

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    No, it isn't necessary; it just makes Ellen sound more annoyed. Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 15:08

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You can leave it out, much just stresses the intensity or degree of the emotion/feeling/state.

Similarly, much is optional in the following idioms:

(Much) to my horror, I looked up and saw the man standing in his yard.

(Much) to my surprise, they offered me a £4,000 scholarship.

I applied for the job, and, (much) to my amazement, I was hired.

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    'Much' stresses the the intensity or degree of the feeling. In "to the annoyance of (someone)" the degree of annoyance is left unspecified. A person might be slightly annoyed or very annoyed. Commented Mar 28, 2021 at 15:50

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