I was studying for the IELTS exams and found the question

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

With some search, I see that "To what extent" in this case is another way to say "How much".

My question is, can I always make this substitution ("How much" => "To what extent") or is it a idiom?

For example, can I say, "To what extent money do you have?"

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    I don't know whether your example makes sense but you can also say to what extent = to what degree.
    – Schwale
    Nov 26 '15 at 16:35
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    I'm still trying to think of a precise answer to this very good question. My instinctive answer for now is that "To what extent" means "To exactly what degree how much". If you can say "To what extent", you can replace it with "how much", but you can't always go the other way around.
    – stangdon
    Nov 26 '15 at 17:50
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    You might be able to get away with saying something like, "To what extent do you have any money?" I don't like that sentence, but we can tweak it to make it a bit more acceptable. For example, someone might tell me, "I don't have any money," and I might respond by asking, "To what extent do you have no money?" meaning, "Is your bank account really at zero? Or do you just owe more money than you have in the bank?"
    – J.R.
    Nov 29 '15 at 1:52

You can ask

How much do you agree with the following statements?

and the answer will be "very much" or "a little" or "not at all", but it won't be "7" or "4" or "0".

On the other hand, if you ask

How much money do you have?

the answer can still be "very much" or "a little", but it can also be a precise amount ("4 dollars", or "33 euros").

You can substitute "To what extent" for "How much" only in the former case, when you are in fact asking for the extent of something (the extent of your agreement to the statements). In the latter case, you aren't asking for the extent of something, but rather for the precise amount, so "To what extent" doesn't make sense in that context."

Note that you can always replace "to what extent" with "how much", but the reverse is not always true. "How much" has a wider range of uses, and some of those don't equate with "to what extent."


Nooooo, big NO. You can't substitute "to what extent" by "how much" in other sentences like "how much money...?" Never, it does not convey the same meaning. In fact, "To what extent" is a phrase frequently used to ask questions that involve an argumentative answer (argumentative essay: where you say whether you agree or disagree and you justify your opinion through arguments).

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