• Much walking was necessary.​

"Much" as a determiner (quantifier) is used in negative sentences or questions, but it can be used in positive ones though it's formal or unnatural. However, in the sentence above, it's modifying a gerund, which is a noun-like verb, so is it a determiner or an adverb? Does it sound natural? Would it be better to say "Very much walking was necessary" since "very much" is needed when describing verbs? Could I say "A lot of walking was necessary"?

The source where I found the sentence: https://guinlist.wordpress.com/tag/much-adjective/

  • You are incorrect in suggesting that "'very much' is needed when describing verbs". E.g., the following are perfectly grammatical: "(I) thank you much." "Do you walk much?" Nov 26, 2021 at 18:23
  • "Walking", here, functions as a noun. It's the same structure as "Much food was necessary".
    – gotube
    Nov 26, 2021 at 18:36

2 Answers 2



Walking is very good for you.
Running is also good for you.
Believe it or not, working is also good for you.

OK, so, if you want to discuss "how much" of all this is good for you, there are several ways to do that. You can add the following adjectives: "much", or "a lot of", or "lots of", or "frequent", for example.

Generally, in speaking, we would not say here: "much walking", we would say: "A lot of walking may tire you".

However, in writing, and more literarily, you will see: "Much merry-making took place in the little town that holiday season", or "**Much walking is needed to lose weight". "There was much drinking that night." In all those, in speech, we are much more likely (haha) to say: "a lot of".

Whether you call this use of the gerund a noun or verb, it does not matter very much. In other words, the "-ing" form of the verb can function like a noun or function like a verb.

    • He is walking to school. [is a verb]
    • Walking is good for you. [functions like a noun AKA by some as a verb paradigm.]

What like a noun? Because it can be qualified: much walking, little walking, a lot of walking, frequent walking, regular walking, etc. And, therefore, in cases like this the qualifiers function like or are adjectives.

So, are you saying it or writing it?

Also, be aware there are nouns structured like this:
The Hunting of the Snark [Lewis Carroll]

Often, those don't have adjectives, but they could:
Extensive hunting of snarks led to their extinction.


The problem is the way you view a gerund. You say it is a "noun-like-verb", but that's not a good description at all - if anything, it is a verb-like-noun. A gerund is derived from a verb, but is a noun. That should answer your question of whether 'much' could be an adverb - no, because it is not acting on a verb.

'Much' is a determiner. It tells us that there is a lot of something. In this case, there was a lot of walking. Here, 'walking' is being used as a noun, the name of an activity.

You suggested that it does not sound natural - perhaps because it is a slightly formal and old-fashioned way of speaking, but one that is perpetuated in modern English, perhaps because of cultural references such as Shakespeare's comedy 'Much Ado About Nothing'.

  • 1
    wouldn't go along with what you say. Though functionally similar to a noun, a gerund is actually a verb, part of the verb paradigm. For example, in "Destroying the files was a serious mistake", "destroying" is a verb not a noun. However, there are some ing forms that are genuinely nouns, and these are best referred to as 'gerundial nouns', as in "I witnessed the killing of the seals", where the article "the" and the of PP mark "killing" as a noun.
    – BillJ
    Oct 26, 2021 at 10:53
  • @BillJ Why doesn't the role of "destroying" as the subject of the sentence mark it as a noun?
    – gotube
    Nov 26, 2021 at 18:45
  • Destroying the files was a serious mistake.= semantically=The destruction of the files was a serious mistake.
    – Lambie
    Nov 27, 2021 at 16:30

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