When talking about beans, lentils or chickpeas should they be considered as countable or uncountable?

Would a person normally say "How many beans should I cook?" or "how much beans should I cook?" Especially if the expected answer is measured in weight (EG: 200 grams) and not in actual numbers of beans.

  • 1
    They would ask "How many?", but expect an answer by volume (or possibly weight), not to be told the exact number of beans to cook! Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 16:43
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    I agree with @KateBunting on this, but without knowing exactly why it's right. Grammatically [syntactically?] it doesn't make a lot of sense, but you'd never ask "How much beans?" Even though you expect the answer to be in cups or grammes, the answer will never be 432. Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 18:17
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    I'd ask How much beans do you want? if I had no choice. But it's not much better than How many..., so I might just sidestep the issue with something uncontentious like Do you want lots of beans? Or How many spoonfuls of beans? (spare me from spoonsful! :) Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 18:18
  • @KateBunting - hmmm . . . not sure. As a keen amatuer cook, if I were unsure I would probably ask "how many grams of beans should I cook" or "how many cans of beans". To ask "How many beans" could be the cue for a sarcastic response - "242 should be fine".
    – Billy Kerr
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 22:10
  • "How much" is correct. If someone asked me how many beans I wanted, I would consider it a mistake, and answer with a precise number like "24" to point out the question was silly.
    – gotube
    Commented Jun 12, 2023 at 22:29

1 Answer 1


In most situations, they would be uncountable. You would ask "how many beans" only when you truly expect the answer to be a number of beans rather than a measurement. For instance, someone might put some beans in a jar and hold a contest to guess "how many" beans are in the jar.

Meanwhile, you could ask "how many" about countable units of measurement.

"Cook some beans."

"How many grams?"

In the comments some have suggested that "How much beans do you want" sounds odd. I think that's just because of the situation. I think "How much beans should I cook" sounds perfectly fine, because one expects a detailed answer to the vague question (100 grams, or 1.5 kg, or half a liter). Serving someone and asking "how much beans do you want" is odd simply because it's hard to answer. "Uh... this much?"

  • "How much beans do you want?" - "Three ladles." Is this not how you normally measure gruelly or granular food - by the utensil you're serving it with?
    – Divizna
    Commented Mar 11 at 17:54
  • @Divizna, as has already been said, to a native speaker "How much beans do you want?" is definitely wrong. It doesn't matter how logically right it seems ... it's just wrong. Commented Jul 9 at 9:27

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