1) How good are you?

2) How much good are you?

Is the second sentence correct? What's the difference between #1) and #2)? I know that it's a simple question but I need some clarification.

  • 4
    (Be) Much good is a negative polarity item, an idiomatic construction. Note that *She is much good at tennis is ungrammatical, because no negative -- She isn't much good at tennis is grammatical and meaningful. It means she's terrible at tennis. NPIs are OK in questions, hence both (1) and (2) are grammatical. But they don't ask the same question. (1) is a real question, while (2) is close to an insult (i.e, the speaker expects the answer "no good at all"). Commented Jul 28, 2016 at 2:37

2 Answers 2


In general, much, as an adverb modifying adjectives, is used with a comparative adjective. Per the OED,

much, adv: modifying an expression of comparison, esp. a comparative adjective or adverb or a phrase containing a superlative adjective or adverb: in a great degree, by far

Your usage is more in line with the following colloquialism:

much, adv: modifying a positive adjective or adverb: very. Now U.S. regional (chiefly south.)

I would hesitate to call "much [adj]" ungrammatical, but it is fairly unusual with most non-comparative adjectives. When in doubt, you should probably leave off much.


The adverb “much” has a meaning of “to a great extent;” from that, you might think of “How much” to mean “To how great an extent.”

How much⸺ are you good? (or “How much good are you?” to comply with the “How (adjective)” form.)

To how great an extent⸺ are you good?

The English language does not work in such a manner (and I can’t explain the why). The phrase “How much” is only used to mean “what amount or price,” as in “How much does it cost?”, and one can just use “how” (used) to ask about the extent or degree of something.

Those written in italics are definitions from Google.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .