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Spanish Grammar tips: Muy vs. Mucho

Through our blog, we will be covering some topics which cause confusion for most learners.

One such question that we are often asked is: When to use ‘muy’ vs. when to use ‘mucho’

Muy vs. Mucho
Both these words convey the idea of something being in great quantity or degree – just like the English words ‘very’ and ‘much’.

These two words (muy and mucho) are usually NOT interchangeable. Let us understand how to use them correctly:

Mucho

Mucho is closer to the English words ‘much’ or ‘a lot’. It is used with nouns and verbs.

Mucho with nouns: Because it is used with nouns – it changes its gender (and singular/plural form) in agreement to the noun
Examples:

  1. Juices have a lot of sugar = Jugos tienen mucho azúcar (singular, masculine)
  2. She has a lot of friends = Ella tiene muchos amigos (plural, male/mixed)
  3. I drink a lot of milk = Bebo mucha leche (singular, feminine)

Sugar, friends, milk are all nouns

Mucho with verbs:With verbs, the form of ‘mucho’ does not change
Examples:

  1. Maria talks a lot = María habla mucho
  2. It rains a lot in Spain = Llueve mucho en España
  3. I love you a lot = Te amo mucho
  4. You work a lot  = Usted trabaja mucho

As you can see: To talk, To rain, To love, and To work are all verbs

Muy

Muy on the other hand is closer to the English word very’ and is used with adjectives and adverbs.

Muy with adjectives:

  1. He is very shy = Él es muy tímido
  2. She is very tired = Ella está muy cansada
  3. John is very tall = John es muy alto
  4. I am very well = Estoy muy bien

As you can see, shy, tired, tall, and well are all adjectives. Hence ‘muy’ takes the form of ‘very’ to increase their degree

Muy with adverbs:

  1. He runs very fast = Él corre muy rápido
  2. She talks very slowly = Ella habla muy despacio
  3. I walked very quickly = Caminé muy rápidamente

As you can see, fast, slowly, and quickly are all adverbs

Thus, use ‘mucho’ as you’d use ‘much/a lot’ and use ‘muy’ as you’d use very.

Exception

There is only one exception to this rule. When ‘very’ is used as a stand-alone word i.e. it is not used before an adjective or an adverb, then it will translate as mucho

Eg:
Are you hungry?…Yes, very! = Tienes hambre? … Sí, mucho!

This is because, sentences like ‘Are you hungry?’ literally translate as ‘Do you have hunger?’. Thus, when we answer this question saying ‘Yes, very’ we are actually saying ‘Yes, I have much hunger

Let us look at another example:
Are you tired?… Yes, very = ¿Estás cansada?… Sí, mucho

Hope this post helps in clearing the confusion on the usage of muy vs. mucho. Are there other such seemingly similar words that you cause confusion? Let us know and we will help you understand their usage better!

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