I have a question for any English experts out there. Actually, I have two questions. They are both sample questions from the SAT writing sections. The underlined portion of the following sentence is in need of correction: Trees are able to collect large amounts of water from fog--in some areas as much as thirty inches annually. The answer key says this is correct as is. I personally thought that "as much as" should be replaced with "as many as" since "inches" is a count noun requiring "many" rather than "much". Is this an exception to the rule, or is it a typographical error?
My second question is as follows: Contrasting with most other fifteenth-century rulers, Portuguese kings could count on the support of the aristocracy in any overseas ventures. The answer key says "contrasting with" is the error in this sentence. While I admit it sounds slightly awkward, I cannot find a grammatical rule that has been broken. Although replacing the phrase "contrasting with" with the word "unlike" would provide a better sentence flow, I cannot decisively declare "contrasting with" a solecism. It does not seem to be a dangling participle, nor does it seem to be a misuse of the preposition "with". My sister suggested that you can't contrast people, only things, but I disagree. I think people can be contrasted with one another just as any other two things can.
Any explanation on these two problems would be greatly appreciated. I've been searching online resources to no avail and am thoroughly frustrated that the SAT study booklets have failed to address these concerns.

mahalo nui loa
1) You'll need to study such patterns of usage yourself.
Go to:

and search over the sites of the BBC and the New York times, by searching respectively for:
site:bbc.co.uk "as many as * inches"
site:bbc.co.uk "as much as * inches"
site:nytimes.com "as many as * inches"
site:nytimes.com "as much as * inches"

* means "anything in between"

site:bbc.co.uk must be introduced in the query as a "search parameter" in order to indicate to the search engine over which site it is supposed to search.

The results from the BBC are especially illuminating for your question. I won't tell you the result, because I want you to learn to do this yourselfEmotion: smile
Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
2. This is not about grammar, but usage. The idiomatic/popular usage in such contexts is "In contrast with/Unlike most other ..." By using the methods above, one would get in terms of hits:
0 from nytimes.com for "contrasting with most"

3 from nytimes.com for "in contrast with most other"
19,800 from nytimes.com for "unlike most other"
I had the exact same problem: stupid Colledge Board! Anyway, here are my explanations:

The object of the first sentence is "rain." Try making that plural...impossible, right? Rain is an uncountable noun. Since "rain" is what is being reffered to in the dependent clause (the unbderlined phrase), and because rain is an uncounbtable noun, "much" is used as opposed to many. If this is confusing, consider the following:

  • I don't have much money. - Money is an uncountable noun(e.g. I have this much monies.)

  • I don't have many money. - Again, also incorrect because "money" is an unccountable noun.

As for the second sentence, the SAT is testing your knowledge of idioms; the idiom is "In contrast with" not "Contrasting with."
Hi Anon,

If your question was inspired by the one posted a couple of years back, I would like to offer a couple of pennies worth.

Trees are able to collect a large amount of water from fog; in some areas, as much as thirty inches a year.

"As much as" actually was referring to "the water collected from fog" which equates to thirty inches, but not "thirty inches" as unit of measurement.

I don't have much money.

But I do have two dollars.
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"people can be contrasted with one another just as any other two things can. " So I guess you have already given the right answer. It should be "contrasted with most other...." instead of "contrasting with most other...." what do you think?