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Are both these statements correct?

  • How many onions do you want?

  • How much onion do you want?

I feel as if the latter is wrong but I know not why.

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They are both correct, given proper context.

If you want to ask someone how many whole onions, they want, you use the former:

A: I need you to get onions from the store.
B: How many onions do you want?
A: Three or four, please.

Note that the answer can be fractional:

A: I need onions for this recipe, can you get some from the store?
B: How many onions does the recipe call for?
A: One and a half large onions, so if you could buy two, that would be great.

This is the more common usage.

However, if you want a volume of onion, either chopped or prepared in some way, you would use "much".

A: This recipe calls for a lot of chopped onion!
B: How much onion does it need?
A: Three cups!

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