Building Vocabulary. Lesson 27

Sadruddin Ahmed

More about words often confused

Much, a lot, lots of

Much is used only with uncountable nouns in negative and interrogative sentences.

He is a busy man. He doesn’t have much free time.

How much experience do you have as a teacher?

A lot of or lots of are informal expressions. They are very common.:

He is a business man and he has a lot of/lots of money.

You can also use plenty of:

He has plenty of money.

These phrases can also be used in negative and interrogative sentences:

He doesn’t have a lot of money.

Does he have a lot of money?

In formal writing it is better to use much:  a great deal of, or a large amount of.

Very much and a lot can be used as adverbs:

I miss you very much.

I miss you a lot.

Thanks a lot.

Should, ought to, had better

Should and ought to are used to say that something is the best thing or the right thing to do. Should, however, is more common. In other words, should is usually used instead of ought to.

We should obey our parents.

We ought to obey our parents.

Had better can also be used to say what is the best thing to do in a certain situation that is happening now.

We had better hurry or we will miss the bus.

You form the past by using should have or ought to have

You should have worked hard.

You ought to have asked your teacher’s help.

The forms should not or shouldn’t or ought not to are used to say that something is a bad idea or wrong thing to do.:

You shouldn’t drive so fast.

You ought not to overeat.

The forms should not have or shouldn’t have or less frequently ought not to have are  used to talk about the past.

I shouldn’t have lost my temper.

I ought not to have overslept.

used to,  be used to

There is a difference in meaning between these two expressions. You use used to do something to talk about something that happened regularly or was the case in the past, but not now.

I used to live in Rajshahi

He used to smoke.

You use be used to something/doing something to talk about something that you are familiar with so that it no longer seems new or strange to you.

The road I live in is very noisy, but I am now used to the noise.

She is used to getting up early in the morning.

You can also use get used to

The weather here is rather hot, but you will get used to it.

Very, very much

Very is used with adjectives, past participles used as adjectives and adverbs

I am very happy to receive your letter. (Here very modifies the adjective happy.)

I am very pleased to see you. (Here very modifies the past participle pleased used as an adjective.

Thank you very much. (Here very modifies the adverb much)

Very is used to emphasize superlative adjectives.

He is our very best student.

With comparative adjectives, much, very much, a lot are used.

Your essay is much better now.

She teaches much younger children.

Very is not used with verbs. Use very much instead.

I enjoyed the meal very much.

Very is not used with adjectives and adverbs that already have an extreme meaning. .In these cases you use adverbs such as absolutely, completely:

The room is absolutely empty.

I am completely exhausted.


  1. Fill in the blanks:
    1. Thank you—–
    2. The noise here is terrible, but you will——
    3. He is used to——-
    4. He ———come to office late.
    5. We——respect our teachers.
    6. You ——-hurry or you will miss the class.
    7. His work was——-appreciated.

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