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I'm wondering whether "much of" can be replaced by "a lot of" to mean "a large proportion of" when the following noun is singular and countable. Many nouns have both countable and uncountable uses. For the present purpose, assume the nouns here are singular and countable.

Much of this cake was eaten by John.

A lot of this cake was eaten by John.

Much of this garment has been smeared.

A lot of this garment has been smeared.

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  • The "this cake" in my examples is a countable and singular noun.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 8:31
  • Cake is also uncountable, Have a piece of cake, A How much cake did he eat? B *He ate a lot
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 8:33
  • Yes, but it is the singular, countable use I'm studying.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 8:40
  • EDITED There is nothing in your example that suggests that "cake" could be construed as countable. The sentence is unlikely because the majority of people would use the active form: John ate a lot of /most of the cake
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 18, 2023 at 8:48
  • Unless they were cupcakes, "eating cake" is uncountable. It's like "drinking coffee" versus buying coffees [cups] at a Starbucks. Same thing.
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 8 at 15:15

1 Answer 1

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Each of the examples:

  • (1) Much of this cake was eaten by John.
  • (2) A lot of this cake was eaten by John.
  • (3) Much of this garment has been smeared.
  • (4) A lot of this garment has been smeared.

is grammatically valid and natural. A fluent speaker might say or write any of these. Sentences (1) and (2) have much the same meaning. So do (3) and (4). All of these are in the passive voice. Many people would use the active forms. However, if the intent is to emphasize "this cake" or "this garment" then one of the forms above might well be used. Without additional context, one cannot say if that is a plausible intention or not.

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  • Some say #4 sounds particularly jarring.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jan 30, 2023 at 2:19

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