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'Mucho' and Its Variations

Word Conveys Idea of Greatness in Extent or Number

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Naranjas

He oído que las naranjas tienen mucho azúcar. (I have heard that oranges have a lot of sugar.)

Photo by Daniel Sancho; licensed via Creative Commons.

Like its English cognate "much," the Spanish mucho conveys the idea of something being great in quantity or degree. Mucho can be used as an adverb, adjective or pronoun.

As an adverb, mucho is frequently translated as "much" or "a lot," although other translations are possible:

  • Fernando habla mucho y dice poco. Fernando talks a lot and says little.
  • En invierno nieva mucho en los Alpes. In winter it snows a lot in the Alps.
  • Derek Jeter es mucho mejor de lo que fue Lou Gehrig. Derek Jeter is much better than what Lou Gehrig was.
  • Mi mamá me ama mucho. My mother loves me a lot.
  • El nuevo iPod Touch es mucho más que un reproductor de música. The new iPod Touch is much more than a music player.

When used as an adverb before adjectives or other adverbs to mean "very," mucho is shortened to muy: Mi tía es muy inteligente. My aunt is very intelligent.

However, mucho is used when it stands alone to mean "very," as in answering a question: ¿Estás cansada? —Sí, mucho. "Are you tired?" "Yes, very."

As an adjective, mucho must agree with the noun it refers to in number and gender. It is typically translated as "much" or "a lot of"; in plural form, it typically means "many" or "a lot of."

  • He oído que las naranjas tienen mucho azúcar. I have heard that oranges have a lot of sugar.
  • Beber mucha leche entera puede provocar sobrepeso. Drinking a lot of whole milk can cause overweight.
  • Twitter tiene muchos usuarios internacionales. Twitter has many international users.
  • Tras su gobierno Schwarzenegger tiene muchas opciones. After his governorship, Schwarzenegger has many options.
  • En el mundo hay muchos millones de personas expuestas al riesgo de erupciones volcánicas. Worldwide there are many millions of people exposed to the risk of volcanic eruptions.

When it functions as a pronoun, mucho must agree with the noun it substitutes for in gender and number:

  • Normalmente, hay cera en los oídos, pero cuando hay mucha, puede ser necesario que el médico la remueva. Normally, there is wax in the ears. But when there is a lot, it can be necessary that the doctor remove it. (Mucha refers to cera, which is singular and feminine.)
  • Para recibir mucho, es necesario dar mucho. In order to receive much, it is necessary to give much. (The neuter and masculine forms of mucho are the same.)
  • Hay muchos que pierden su vida buscando una perfección que nunca se llega a encontrar. There are many who waste their lives looking for a perfection that never shows up to be found. (Muchos presumably refers to males and females, so the plural masculine form is used.)
  • Muchas quieren ser como Marilyn Monroe. Many want to be like Marilyn Monroe. (Muchas likely refers to women and/or girls.)

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