Mucho vs Muy: What’s the Difference?
Do you know why we say tengo mucho frío (I’m very cold) and este departamento es muy frío (this apartment is very cold) if in both cases we want to say “very cold”?
Do you want to learn when to use mucho and muy?
In this blog post, I will explain the difference between mucho and muy and I will give you a few sentences to practice with examples. In the end, you can check how much you learned in a quiz!
Mucho vs Muy – Grammatical Difference
What’s the difference between mucho and muy? Learners tend to confuse them, although they don’t even look similar. Anyway, they are very easy to comprehend if we descend to the grammatical level.
Well, basically muy is an adverb and mucho can be both an adjective and an adverb. It means we will use them differently in a sentence. These two words behave differently in a sentence and combine with, and describe, different parts of speech.
It’s like bien vs bueno. If you remember simple rules, distinguishing mucho and muy from another becomes much easier to understand.
Muy is an Adverb
Muy translates into “very” and it is an adverb. Do you remember what adverbs are? They describe verbs, adjectives, other adverbs, and whole phrases.
Adverbs answer the following questions:
- In what way?
- To what extent?
If you want to check first how much you remember about adverbs, you can check yourself out with a quiz on this part of the speech.
Coming back to muy, the best thing about these tiny words is that they always stay the same. Yes! It has no masculine or feminine form, nor singular, nor plural. Muy will be muy, no matter what.
Now, let’s see how you can use muy in a sentence:
Muy + adjective
You surely have already noticed that Spanish-speaking people are very energetic and expressive, and they tend to emphasize many things. They love to use this tiny muy to help them with this.
Muy plus adjective highlights the quality expressed by the adjective. Muy in English is “very”. A perfect word for bragging! Let’s see:
Mi casa es muy bonita.
My house is very beautiful.
Mi marido es muy guapo.
My husband is very handsome.
Mis niños son muy inteligentes.
My kids are very intelligent.
Mi perro es muy obediente.
My dog is very obedient.
Yo soy muy modesta.
I am very modest.
Estoy muy bien, gracias.
I’m very well, thank you.
Muy + adverb
In a similar way, when you put muy before an adverb, it emphasizes the quality expressed by the adverb. It also translates into “very” or “too”.
Tú todo lo haces muy bien.
You do everything very well.
No llegues muy tarde, por favor.
Don’t be too late, please.
José camina muy deprisa.
José walks very fast.
¿Por qué hablas muy rápido? No hay prisa.
Why are you talking too fast? There’s no hurry.
Mucho is slightly more complex than muy as it can be both an adjective and an adverb. It combines with different parts of speech.
Mucho in English is “a lot”, “a lot of”, “much”, and “many”:
Mucho + Noun
When mucho is followed by a noun, it is an adjective, it must agree in gender and number with the noun it follows. Therefore, you’ll see four forms of mucho:
- mucho – masculine singular
- mucha – feminine singular
- muchos – masculine plural
- muchas – feminine plural
Let’s see some examples:
Tengo muchos amigos.
I have many friends.
Hay muchas diferencias entre estos dos dibujos.
There are many differences between these two drawings.
Tengo mucha hambre.
I am very hungry.
Mucho gusto en conocerlo, señor.
Nice to meet you, sir.
Verb + Mucho
When you see mucho after a verb, it is an adverb, and same as muy, it does not change its form in gender or number.
Te amo mucho.
I love you a lot.
Mis primos en Monterrey trabajan mucho.
My cousins in Monterrey work a lot.
Estudiamos mucho y de todas formas reprobamos el examen.
We studied a lot and we still failed the exam.
As I was saying before, Spanish speakers like to exaggerate and use the language to its fullest. Sometimes, mucho seems not enough, and you will hear muchísimo instead. You can translate into “really a lot” or “more than a lot”, or “very much”.
In Spanish you can’t combine muy mucho, it’s grammatically incorrect and that’s when muchísimo comes in. However, in some songs, you can come across this combination, but it’s rather the artistic license than daily usage. For example, Mercedes Sosa in her song Chacarera de las Piedras (Chacarera of the Stones) sings: Aquí canta un caminante / que muy mucho ha caminado (…) ( A walking traveler sings / One that has walked a whole lot). To make it correct, you’d say: Aquí canta un cantante que ha caminado muchísimo.
Muchísimo can be used in the same situations as mucho, meaning that when it works as an adjective, its form has to agree in gender and number with the noun. When it works as an adverb, it has only one possible form.
Este invierno hizo muchísimo frío.
This winter, it was extremely cold.
Hay muchísimas niñas que no quieren jugar solamente con las muñecas.
There are many girls who do not want to play only with dolls.
Mi padre trabaja muchísimo.
My father works a lot.
Te amo muchísimo.
I love you very much.
Expressions with mucho
Mucho que sí
This expression simply means mucho to express affirmation. It’s not very common but you can still come across it.
–Mucho que sí.
-Do you like it?
-Oh yes, a lot. / Obviously
Ni con mucho
You’ll use it to express a big difference between one thing and the other.
El talento de María no llega ni con mucho al de Juana.
Marías talent is nowhere near Juana’s.
Ni mucho menos
Ni mucho menos expresses an outright denial:
-¿Has terminado el trabajo?
-¡Ni mucho menos!
-Have you finished the job?
-Not at all!
Por mucho que
It is a phrase that can substitute the expression por más que (no matter what):
Por mucho que me guste este coche, no me lo puedo permitir.
As much as I like this car, I can’t afford it.
- If it’s followed by que plus the subjunctive mood, it transmits a message that what will be expressed right after, should not surprise the receiver. It is often used as a question or exclamation.
¿Qué mucho que haya preferido la pobreza a la deshonra?
Is it that surprising that he has preferred poverty to disgrace?
- It can also be a synonym to cuánto (in what quantity).
¡Ay, qué mucho pesas!
Oh, how much you weigh!
Mucho vs Muy quiz
Let’s see how much you learned about mucho vs muy. You can check out your knowledge in the quiz below. Remember, there’s only one correct answer in each question.
1. La película estuvo _________ interesante.
2. El siguiente mes voy a leer _________.
3. A mi hija le dolió el estomago porque comió _________ dulces.
4. Mi gata es _________ inteligente.
5. Tengo _________ frio.
6. Mi departamento es _________ frío.
7. Me gusta _________ cocinar.
8. Te llamo luego. Ahora estoy _________ apurada.
9. Estoy triste y necesito _________ amor.
10. Es un actor _________ carismático.
Remember, practice makes perfect and you will need to make many exercises before you fully learn mucho and muy. Another way to fluency is speaking. Choose a topic about something that you like a lot, or something that you like doing, and talk to your Spanish-speaking friend.
If you don’t have anybody you could mucho vs muy with, sign up for a free class with one of our friendly, native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala.
Ready to learn more Spanish grammar? Check these out!
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- How to Use Spanish Infinitives as Nouns
- Understanding the Spanish Subjunctive in Noun Clauses - September 21, 2021
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- How to Talk About Length of Time in Spanish: Durar, Tardar, Llevar - September 17, 2021