If i am a shop-keeper and someone walks into my shop asking for a hard disk. And i want to ask him 'how many gb hard disk does he need' How should i ask it ?

  1. What GB hard disk do you need ?
  2. How many GB hard disk do you need ?

My questions are -

  1. Which is the correct way to ask this question ?
  2. Are there any instances where 'how many' is used like in this example (Because GB is a number)

And if i am a customer and i want to know what is the highest gb hard disk that is available in the market. Would you please also frame this question for me ?

  • 3
    Your question should not include the abbreviation "GB", but rather write it out as you would say it. Singular or plural makes a difference in the interpretation.
    – user3169
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 6:00
  • @user3169 not exactly. I want a 5 GB hard disk! :) No plural The GB there serves as an adjective.
    – Maulik V
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 11:53
  • 1
    GB is never an adjective.
    – user230
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 15:16
  • 1
    @MaulikV True, but since this is spoken you would not say "gee-bee". So it should be written out.
    – user3169
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 20:08
  • @user3169 come on. IT IS spoken gee bee. And pronounced or spoken it's gb
    – Maulik V
    Commented Nov 30, 2014 at 7:11

4 Answers 4


I would skip referring to "gigabytes" entirely:

How big a hard drive do you need?

And if you are a customer, you ask

What's the biggest drive on the market?

To my (AmE) ears, it seems odd to ask about the number of gigabytes; the thing I'm interested is the size of the drive, and I'd only talk about that until it comes time to specify a number.

  • 2
    If I'm a customer, I'd show him with my hands -this big! So that, I can keep it in my pocket! :P
    – Maulik V
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 5:43
  • 1
    The only problem with talking about the 'size' of hard drives is that it can refer to the physical size (e.g. 2.5" versus 3.5") as well as the data capacity. So I'd say "what capacity?"
    – A E
    Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 16:06
  • I'd say 'size', really. If the customer then replies 'this big' I'd realise he had no clue about tech & reduce my jargon from that point. Though i suppose reduce is not strictly true… 'form factor' & 'capacity' may need further reduction ;) Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 21:33

Neither of your phrasings is acceptable, in my view. By analogy, if you were selling mugs, you would be saying, incorrectly:

  1. What milliliter(s) mug do you need?
  2. How many milliliters(s) mug do you need?

Correct wordings would include:

  • What capacity mug do you need?
  • What capacity mug do you need, in milliliters?
  • How large of a mug do you need (in milliliters)?
  • How many milliliters do you need for the capacity of your mug?

For hard disks, you could say any of the following:

  • What capacity hard disk do you need?
  • How large of a hard disk do you need, in gigabytes?
  • How much disk space do you need?
  • How many gigabytes of disk space do you need?

When comparing two hard disks, you would speak of…

  • More/greater/higher/larger/bigger capacity
  • More space
  • More gigabytes

If you want to splurge, you would ask questions like:

  • What is the largest hard disk available?
  • Which is the largest hard disk you have in stock?

(It's generally assumed that when you say largest, you mean capacity, not physical dimensions.)

  • Whatever you do, don't say "I want the one with the bigger GBs" — an incorrect phrase used to mock the idiocy of the brown bear in this satirical cartoon (Warning: foul language!). Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 11:08
  • Though i'm generally on your side in this answer, if I chose my coffee mug in ml rather than by the pretty pattern on the front… please come & lock me in the soft room til I recover my senses ;-) Commented Nov 29, 2014 at 21:37

Since you were asked about a hard drive, there is no need to repeat it. I would just ask:

How many gigabytes/terabytes capacity do you need?

or just:

How much capacity do you need?

In your example;

2) How many gigabyte hard disk do you need?

I would interpret this to mean:

How many gigabyte hard disks do you need?

which is a different question. In this example, "gigabyte" is just a modifier of "hard disk".
However, this point might be opinion based.


Since I work with computers a lot, I know that there are plenty more things you could reasonably ask about a hard drive - and that counting gigabytes is a trifle unambitious in these times of multi-terabyte drives.

As other answers have noted, you should ask "how big" rather than "how many GB" or "what GB", though of those two, "how many gigabytes" is more correct. But what I would do instead is to produce a list (or display) of relevant products in stock, and invite the customer to choose between the possibilities.

Such a list is likely to contain external drives for the desktop or for portable use, internal mechanical drives in 3.5" size for desktop computers or 2.5" for laptops, and several ranges of SSDs (solid-state drives) in 2.5" and M.2 formats. Each will be in a range of capacities - some of the smaller SSDs might be 120GB, while 3.5" HDDs go up to 8TB now (that's 8000GB).

At this point, a tech-savvy customer will know what he wants and will immediately choose something, or ask pertinent questions of his own. He'll appreciate your efficiency.

But a less assured customer might need help choosing, and that's when you start asking about their budget and intended usage. They probably won't have a specific capacity in mind!

For basic uses like "homework" or "email", you would select a product near the bottom of the price range that fits their computer. For "video editing" you should go straight for the 8TB monsters. For "gaming" you could recommend a combination of an SSD (for performance) and HDD (for large games), using their budget as a guide.

Example conversation:

Cust: I need a hard drive.

Shop: We've got lots of hard drives. What kind do you need?

Cust: What's the biggest one you've got?

Shop: We have an eight-terabyte model. Here it is.

Cust: Perfect! I'll take three.

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