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Hello,

1. How much money do you want?

2. How many books do you want?

I have to answer both the question saying either "nothing" or "none".

But I am a bit confused.

Could anybody explain it clearly abot the usage of "none" and "nothing"?

Thanks.
Comments  
"None" would be used for countable things like books.

"Nothing" would be used for uncountable stuff like sugar.

Yes, it can get confusing. You definitely would not reply "nothing" to the question, "How many books do you want?" You definitely would not reply "none" to the question, "What's in the box?"

How much money do you want? None. / Nothing. (I hear both with equal frequency. In my experience, the answer to "How much" may be "None" or "Nothing.")

How many tacos can you eat? None. (The answer to "How many" is always "None.")

How many dollars are in your pocket? None.

How many teaspoons of sugar shall I put in your coffee? None.

How much sugar is in the bowl? None. / Nothing.

What do you want for breakfast? Nothing. (The answer to "What" is always "Nothing.")

So I guess the key word in the question is more useful in chosing the answer than is the countable/uncountable distinction. (This is just based on my experience, not on the rules. Best to wait for other opinions.)

- A.
Avangi"None" would be used for countable things like books.

"Nothing" would be used for uncountable stuff like sugar.
I feel this is bogus. Forget the countable / uncountable idea and substitute it with "quantity".
AvangiHow much money do you want? None. / Nothing. (I hear both with equal frequency. In my experience, the answer to "How much" may be "None" or "Nothing.")
Never nothing. Money has quantity.
AvangiHow much sugar is in the bowl? None. / Nothing.
Never nothing. Sugar has quantity even if the noun is an uncountable. On the other hand "empty" doesn't have "quantity": The sugar bowl is "empty"; there's "nothing" in it.

What were you thinking. -> Nothing. Thinking doesn't have quantity.
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Thanks, Huevos. I agree that "countable/uncountable" is of no use in this discussion, and was wishing when I signed off that I had time to change it. (I would gladly replace it with "quantity.")

Although money is a scalar, the answer to "What do I owe you?" is never "None." Even "How muchEmotion: money do I owe you?" often brings the answer, "Nothing."

Perhaps "What do I owe you?" = "What is my debt?" where "debt" may not be considered a scalar. "What / how much is my bill?" may be getting into a grey area.

I agree the answer to "How much money is there?" should be "None," but I often hear, "Nothing." (Perhaps a different question is being answered.)

Best wishes, - A.
Hi, I am afraid that I don't quite agree with the above comment. I am doing a bit of research as it came up during a lesson yesterday and I don't think that it matters whether or not it is countable. When you are asking a How much/how many question, what is important is whether or not a unit is indicated. When there is a unit, none is used and when there is no stated unit nothing is more appropriate. For example:

"How much did they pay you?" Nothing. (Even though we can guess a unit such as dollars or yen, none is stated specifically so we use "Nothing")

"How much money did they pay you?" None.

"How much did you eat?" Nothing

"How many hotdogs did you eat?" None

"How many" will always be answered by "None"- think of it like a different way of saying "zero"

"What" will always be answered by "Nothing"

Only "How much" has confusion.

Good luck!

JMS
I think that the correct use of these two words is well described in the JMS' explanation.

1) If the question includes explicitly the thing whose quantity your are talking about or it was mentioned beforehand, then you say "none" meaning none of that thing (it can be either countable or uncountable: none of cheese, none of the three dogs).

2) If that entity is undefined or just omitted from the question because is not relevant you use nothing which is an attribute that is not associated to any specific thing.

Maybe the incorrect rule based on countable and uncountable nouns comes from the fact that How many is
always answered with none. But it is not due to the countable noun of the question. It is because How many is invariably assoiciated to an specific entity (e.g. how many trees) and therefore it falls in the first case. What and How much can be either (disagreeing with what JMS' sais in this point). Here some examples with What:

What color do you like the most? None
What did you do? Nothing

In some contexts you can alter this rule but under the same concept. For example,

How much bread did you eat? Nothing!

The person who answers is disregarding the noun of the question (bread) and then switching from case 1 to case 2. He is emphisizing that he ate neither bread nor any other thing.

Maaauu!!
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AnonymousWhat color do you like the most? None.
How much bread did you eat? Nothing!
It seems to me that the respondent is disregarding convention altogether.
I don't recall ever having heard an educated native speaker respond in these ways.

If you add some context to imply, "Which color among these do you find most suitable?" then "None" would be fine.
(Yes, you would be rejecting the question and "proposing" another.)

To the second one, "I ate nothing" would be an acceptable answer, implying a "different" question.
"Nothing," by itself, is clearly unresponsive, in my opinion.

I think the question really is, "What standard of acceptability are we talking about here."
No doubt people say all sorts of things when they're off their game.

Rgdz, - A.
Thanks

Speaking of the questions with "How much" asking for quantity of something, I think there can be a hint in the question itself. Compare these two examples:
How much money do you have? - None.
How much do I owe you? - Nothing.
If there is a NOUN in the question, then we can answer with none. When there is no NOUN in the question, then we can use nothing.
What do you think?

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