On seeing the lion she felt much/too much/very much afraid.

Which one of the three suits in the sentence as the best? How does they differ from one another?


2 Answers 2


Of the three options in the question, only one is correct: "very much".

One could say "very afraid", but not "much afraid".

"Too much" has a very strong connotation of excess. One could be "too afraid to do (some action)", but I cannot think of a way to correctly and comfortably use "too much afraid". I think it could be done, but the essential meaning would be that the subject of the sentence had so much fear that they were unable to perform some action. "Too much" is distinctly taken to mean that there is an excess.

I will use the American Heritage dictionary as reference for "very" today. You will note that the first definition is "In a high degree; extremely". It works quite well for us here. And, the definition of "much" serves to reinforce and validate the very. It adds emphasis.

And, at this point, regarding the usage of "much" applied to "afraid", a simple internet search comes to my rescue. Searching on "grammar rules for much and many" gets me a few good pages. I like this one: Much - Many - A lot of - Few - English Grammar.

That should be helpful. Just to add an example of using much with afraid, based on the negative / positive sentence rule we find on that page:

  1. "She was not much afraid." (Acceptable)
  2. Whereas, "She was much afraid." is entirely incorrect, because the sentence is not negative.
  • Yesterday, when I first answered, it was late, and I was too tired to do a proper web search. With a fresh start today, finding the appropriate grammar rules to apply with "much" was easy. A rested mind always helps!
    – Mark G B
    Nov 8, 2015 at 18:45
  • I've heard the expression "much afraid" before, but it sounds decidedly antiquated and not contemporary. Examples I found on Google seemed to back that hunch.
    – J.R.
    Nov 10, 2015 at 15:46
  • I would agree with you that it sounds antiquated.
    – Mark G B
    Nov 12, 2015 at 16:42

The use of much/too much/very much to show intensity/amount of something is determined by the writer's intent. In your example, do you wish to convey very, overly, or extremely to modify "afraid"?

  • In my example, I just have this sentence only and out of the given options I need to select the best option. It was basically in my exam. Since I felt it could be any one of them therefore asked here. Oct 8, 2015 at 19:48
  • 1
    I can't attest to what the exam is looking for, but I will say that if I saw a lion, especially one that was not under some control, I would be very much afraid.
    – Katherine
    Oct 8, 2015 at 20:19

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