# Why do we say how much if asking for the price?

I've read that to ask for the quantity or amount of uncountable nouns, we use how much, but why do we also use how much to ask for the price of something?

• "How much money does it cost?" => "What is the amount of money that it costs?" Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 2:19

When we ask for the price of something, we could say

How much money does it cost?

How much does it cost? [money is implied]

We use the determiner much as money is uncountable, as explained in Cambridge Dictionary.

In English grammar, some things are seen as a whole or mass. These are called uncountable nouns, because they cannot be separated or counted.

Other common uncountable nouns include: accommodation, baggage, homework, knowledge, money, permission, research, traffic, travel. [emphasis added]

• In contrast, we use "many" if we ask "How many dollars does it cost?", because dollars are countable. Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 14:30
• @Barmar Well, we would if we ever asked "How many dollars does it cost?", but since this is ELL it's worth pointing out that this is an odd construct that is effectively never used by native speakers.
– J...
Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 16:36
• @Barmar butz to slightly complicate, if someone says "This is fifty dollars", the reply (colloquially) would not be "How many?" But rather still, "How much?" Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 18:01
• @BruceWayne Because that's still talking about the price, which is uncountable. Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 18:02

In English, monetary value (including price, cost, wealth, etc.) is treated as a continuous measure, just like, say, weight or length or duration.

Sure, you can measure money in discrete units such as dollars or cents or yen, just as you can measure weight in kilograms or pounds. But the price of something is not necessarily a whole number of dollars (or cents, or yen) just like the weight of something isn't necessarily a whole number of kilograms. Thus, the appropriate quantifier for both money and weight is "much".

Compare these parallel dialogues, which are both (reasonably) idiomatic English:

– How much does it weigh?
– It weighs about 100 kilograms.
– Really, that much? I thought it would weigh less than that.

– How much does it cost?
– It costs about 100 dollars.
– Really, that much? I thought it would cost less than that.

And also compare them with counting actual discrete objects, like, say, coins:

— How many coins are there in this jar?
— There are about 100 coins in there.
— Really, that many? I thought there would be fewer than that.

• To be sure, many to most prices in everyday life are whole numbers of at least cents, since that's the smallest unit for which there exists physical units of the currency. For exceptions to this, however, one need only look at fuel prices (which are traditionally denominated down to the tenths of cent) or the stock market (which has prices that go aaaaaallllllll the way down decimalwise). Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 0:11