If you have ever said or felt tempted to say “estoy mucho bien” to tell someone you are doing well, this is a video you must watch because I will provide you with key points you should bear in mind to use muy and mucho properly when speaking Spanish… hasta que hables español muy bien (until you speak Spanish very well) —see what I did there?
I will provide you with a whole set of examples shortly, but first, let’s go over the two main differences between muy and mucho:
- Muy will never change, while there are times when mucho turns into muchos, mucha, muchas, muchísimo, muchísima, muchísimas, and muchísimos.
- Muy is an adverb and it will be so at all times, while mucho may be either an adverb or an adjective.
La mayoría de quienes hablan el español como lengua materna no saben qué son adverbios y adjetivos (Most native Spanish speakers have no clue about what adjectives and adverbs are). So, why should you worry about them?
Memorizing grammar rules or vocabulary lists to be able to speak Spanish fluently will actually slow down your language learning process. Instead, you may rely on our conversation-based chunking method, which consists in learning chunks, that is, fixed word combinations you may learn by heart because they will always be the same.
- ¡Mucho gusto! (Nice to meet you!)
- ¡Muchas gracias! (Thank you very much!)
- Este platillo está muy rico. (This dish is delicious!)
- El viaje fue muy largo y aburrido. (The trip was very long and boring.)
If you want to know more about this chunking method, you might want to sign up for our Free Spanish Training on our website. If you do so, you’ll get free sample Spanish lessons.
Having said that, let’s go over the chunks that will allow you not only to understand the differences between muy and mucho, but also to use them correctly every single time!
How to use muy
Look at these examples and let’s see if you are able to figure out a pattern:
- Estoy muy contenta. (I’m really happy.)
- Mi hermano es muy alto. (My brother is very tall.)
- Su jefe es muy enojón. (Their boss is very grumpy.)
- Eres muy inteligente. (You’re very smart.)
- Estábamos muy sorprendidas. (We were really surprised.)
- Estos aretes son muy grandes. (These earrings are very big.)
The first pattern you may have noticed is that estamos describiendo cosas o personas (we are describing things and people). The word muy in all these examples is basically emphasizing a specific trait, which may be permanent or temporary.
The common denominator is that contenta (happy), alto (tall), enojón (grumpy), inteligente (intelligent), sorprendidas (surprised), and grandes (big) are what linguists and other language professionals call adjectives and they are used to describe things or people.
So, the second pattern is that muy will always appear next to an adjective. In fact, muy will always appear before the adjective. English and Spanish are similar in this regard because saying sentences like Mi hermano es alto muy and My brother is tall very are equally wrong in both languages!
Now, look at the following chunks:
- ¡Sigue aprendiendo español! ¡Lo estás haciendo muy bien! (Keep learning Spanish! You’re doing a great job!)
- La maestra habla muy rápido. (The teacher speaks very fast.)
- Mi hotel está muy lejos del aeropuerto. (My hotel is very far away from the airport.)
- Nuestra casa está muy cerca del centro de la ciudad. (Our house is very close to the city center.)
In these cases, we’re not describing someone or something, instead, we are describing how something is done or where something is located. Therefore, muy is also used to highlight words like bien (well), rápido (fast), lejos (far away), and cerca (close to), which are called adverbs by linguists.
How to use mucho
The word mucho is used for three different purposes:
1. To vaguely tell the amount of something
If you want to highlight that there is a lot of something, you should use mucho. For example:
- Debemos tomar mucha agua. (We should drink a good amount of water.)
- Muchos gatos han sido abandonados. (Many cats have been abandoned.)
- Siempre tengo mucho trabajo. (I always have a lot of work to do.)
- Tenemos muchas ganas de viajar. (We really want to travel.)
- Ella tiene mucho frío. (She’s very cold.)
In this case, you should bear in mind that:
- The word mucho should agree in number and gender with the noun it is describing. Since agua (water) is singular and feminine, we don’t say mucho agua, but mucha agua. Similarly, gatos (cats) is plural and masculine, so you should say muchos.
- The word mucho appears before the noun or the thing you are talking about. This is a similarity between muy and mucho.
With this in mind, try to fill in the blank in the following sentences (write your answers in the comments section):
- Debemos tomar _______ agua. (We should drink a good amount of water.)
- _______ gatos han sido abandonados. (Many cats have been abandoned.)
- Siempre tengo _______ trabajo. (I always have a lot of work.)
- Tenemos __________ ganas de viajar. (We really want to travel.)
2. To talk about things we do to a great extent
The word mucho allows us to talk about things we like doing, things we do frequently, or things we do to a great extent —whether we like them or not.
- Me gusta dormir mucho. (I truly enjoy sleeping.)
- En Navidad solemos cenar mucho. (We usually eat quite a lot on Christmas Eve.)
- Mi mamá trabaja mucho. (My mom works a lot.)
What’s the pattern here? If you are describing an action (or a verb), the word mucho needs no agreement in terms of gender or number, in other words, it stays the same, and it goes after the verb.
3. To make comparisons
The word mucho is also useful to compare things. For example:
- Mi hermano es mucho más alto que yo. (My brother is way taller than I am.)
- Llegamos al aeropuerto mucho antes de la hora indicada. (We arrived at the airport way before the indicated time.)
- Tengo mucho menos frío que hace rato. (I’m not as cold as I was a while ago.)
Don’t combine muy and mucho
The words muy and mucho should never be combined. Instead use either muchísima(s) or muchísimo(s). For example:
- Me siento muchísimo mejor. (I feel so much better.)
- Tenemos muchísima hambre. (We’re starving.)
- Tienen muchísimo trabajo. (They’re really busy.)
- Tengo muchísimas ganas de leer sus comentarios. (I’m eager to read your comments!)
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¡Mucho bien! OR ¡Muy bien! Which is right? If you got this far, not only do you know that we say ¡muy bien!, but you also know many other chunks that will allow you to use muy and mucho properly.
If you are doubtful about whether to use muy or mucho in a specific sentence or sentences, why don’t you leave a comment below?
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