Viel oder viele?

viel oder viele cover NEW

"Viel" oder "Viele"? Gute Frage!

It depends on whether or not you're speaking about something that can be counted. For example:

viel Zeit - lots of time. Time in general cannot be counted. (You can count hours, but not time itself.)

viele Menschen - many people. People can be counted.

Erfolg (success) is another example of something that cannot be counted. Certain things, yes, like finishing a degree or obtaining your driver's license, can be counted, sure, however they are very specific events. But the notion of success is not countable. Thus when we wish someone success in German, we say "Viel Erfolg!"

So when you are unsure, be sure to ask yourself the question if something is countable or not:

Ist die Sache zählbar? Oder unzählbar?

The trick is knowing which things in German are countable or uncountable as it differs from your native language.

For example, insurance is not a countable noun in English. Insurance is this idea that if something bad happens, there will be money to pay for repairs. You can't count the insurance itself, as it's a general idea. You can only count how many insurance policies you might hold. Or how many insurance premiums you pay. But the insurance itself? Uncountable.

Versicherung, the German word for insurance, on the other hand, can be counted. Eine Versicherung is (made into English) "an insurance," which makes no sense in English (and just might make your skin crawl just reading it), but it works in German. Thus insurance differs between English and German in that it is countable in German, however not countable in English.

So remember:  zählbar:  viele. unzählbar:  viel.

Viel Spaß damit!


This reader question this week came from D. M. in Österreich. Danke für die Frage!

"Gern" oder "gerne"?
Fünfzehn Synonyme für Geld


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