Do you struggle with knowing when to use muy and mucho?
These two words tend to cause an awful lot of confusion among Spanish students.
Both muy and mucho are widely used among native Spanish speakers so it is important you learn not only to differentiate them, but also how to use them correctly.
As complicating as certain grammar rules may seem when it comes to Spanish, in this case they are quite simple and the following rules will help eliminate any doubts.
Muy is an adverb that means “very” in English.
An adverb is a word that modifies a verb, another adverb, an adjective, or a phrase or sentence. But NOT a noun.
An adverb typically answers the question “how,” “in what way,” “when,” “where,” and “to what extent?”
You’re going to love this: Muy has NO masculine, feminine, singular, or plural form! This means muy was, is, and will always be muy, no matter what.
These rare certainties are known to happen now and then within the Spanish language so be excited. Enjoy it while you can!
Now let’s dive in...
Hispanics love to emphasize EVERYTHING so it’s a good idea to have muy on your side.
Muy is a sucker for company as it ALWAYS needs to be accompanied by an adjective or an adverb.
Let’s look at a few examples using this formula.
Esta comida está muy rica. => This food is very tasty.
Claudio está muy enojado con su hermana. => Claudio is very mad at his sister.
Ella es muy graciosa. => She is very funny.
Ese barrio es muy peligroso. => That neighborhood is very dangerous.
Hoy es un día muy nublado. => Today is a very cloudy day.
Mi trabajo es muy lejos de mi casa. => My job is very far from home.
This one is pretty straight forward.
Let’s look at a few examples using this formula.
Amelia habla muy deprisa cuando está apurada. => Amelia speaks very fast when she’s in a hurry.
Ese coche está yendo muy despacio.
That car is going very slowly.
Sabes cocinar muy bien. => You know how to cook very well.
Susana llegó muy tarde al cumpleaños. => Susana arrived very late to the birthday party.
José habla muy claro. => José speaks very clearly.
Aprobaron muy fácilmente el examen. => They passed the exam very easily.
You have probably heard mucho in expressions like mucho gusto (nice to meet you) and muchas gracias (thank you).
As you know, mucho goes far beyond those boundaries. Mucho is a two-faced word: it can be used as an adjective or as an adverb.
Mucho means a lot, a lot of, and much or many in English.
An adjective is a word that modifies a noun.
This means that when mucho is used as an adjective, it will have to match the noun in number (singular, plural) and genre (feminine, masculine).
Consequently, there are four possible scenarios:
This one can’t get any simpler…. That is as long as you don’t forget to match the number and genre.
Here are a few examples of this formula.
Hay mucha gente en el banco. => There are a lot of people at the bank.
Mi madre cocina mucha comida durante las fiestas. => My mother cooks a lot of food during the holidays.
Juan tiene muchos dolores de cabeza. => Juan has many headaches.
Ana recogió muchas manzanas del árbol del vecino. => Ana collected many apples from the neighbor’s tree.
Hoy hace mucho frío. => It is very cold today.
Ellos deben estudiar porque tienen muchos exámenes la semana que viene. => They must study because they have many exams next week.
Samuel tiene muchos amigos en la escuela. => Samuel has a lot of friends at school.
El profesor tiene mucha paciencia.
The professor has a lot of patience.
Mucho - The Adverb
When mucho is used as an adverb, it’s always the same. There is no change in gender and number and it’s placed after the verb it modifies.
Let’s look at a few examples.
Me esforcé mucho para conseguir este trabajo. => I tried very hard to get this job.
En verano hace mucho calor. => It’s very hot in the summer.
Te quiero mucho. => I love you a lot.
Estudiaron mucho para el examen de español. => They studied a lot for the Spanish exam.
El profesor tiene mucho para hacer. => The professor has a lot to do.
Laura está cansada porque trabaja mucho. => Laura is tired because she works a lot.
As I previously mentioned, Hispanics are masters of the art of exaggeration.
When you liked the food your mother-in-law prepared for you “mucho” and you get disappointing looks, it’s time to turn it up a notch.
Use muchísimo to emphasize that something is more than a lot, many, or very.
Durante el verano, en Buenos Aires hace muchísimo calor.
During the summer Buenos Aires is very, very hot.
Susana preparó muchísima comida. => Susana prepared lots and lots of food.
¡La cena me gustó muchísimo! => I liked dinner very, very much!
Tuve muchísima suerte este año. => I was very, very lucky this year.
La película tuvo muchísimo éxito. => The movie was extremely successful.
El árbol tiene muchísimas manzanas. => The tree has lots and lots of apples.
Esa universidad tiene muchísimos alumnos. => That university has many, many students.
Let’s look at this particular example:
Me gustas muchísimo. => I like you a lot.
If you try to translate “very much,” you will end up with muy mucho, which would be entirely wrong.
DO NOT try to combine the use of muy and mucho.
You don’t like someone muy mucho. You like someone mucho or muchísimo.
So keep that in mind before you go about putting those two words together in a sentence.
After practicing with your tutor using muy and mucho in different ways, you will start noticing if and when something doesn’t sound right.
Now that you have this down, let’s make it a bit more fun.
Take a look at this example…
Mucho estudio. Estudio mucho.
Which is the correct sentence?
You guessed it, they both are! But yes, they have different meanings.
Mucho estudio: Mucho (adjective) estudio (noun) => A lot of studying.
Estudio mucho: Estudio (verb) mucho (adverb). => I study a lot.
El gato es muy lindo. => The cat is very cute.
Cocinas muy bien. => You cook very well.
Compré muchos lápices. => I bought many pencils.
Comió muchas mandarinas. => He/She ate many mandarins.
Juan protesta mucho. => Juan complains a lot.
Mi hijo ríe mucho.
My son laughs a lot.
Did you learn anything new today?
We hope you came away with a mucho greater understanding of when to use mucho and when to use muy in Spanish.
Muy and mucho can be quite difficult for non-native Spanish speakers, but when you get the framework down, you’ll soon find that thinking and speaking these two words will become like second nature.
What other examples can you come up with? Let’s see a phrase using one of these words in the comments below!
Victoria is a native Spanish speaker from Argentina. At 21 years old she embarked on an adventure that started in Wisconsin and ended in Colorado. She has a passion for teaching Spanish and offers online tutoring here: Victoria - Italki Teacher. New users get $10 after spending $10 with that special affiliate link. :)
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