Viel vs. Viele - How To Choose?
German students often struggle to see when “viel” has an ending and when it doesn’t because they don’t understand the grammatical difference between adverbs and adjectives. In this post I will explain the difference so that you can make the right choice moving forward.
As I explain in my A-Z of grammar terms, adverbs are words that describe, modify or quantify verbs. Adverbs are, for instance, information of time, manner, reasons, locations. I discuss adverbs in German in greater detail in another post. By contrast, adjectives are words that are used to describe nouns. While adverbs in German don’t take endings, adjectives do- at least when they are placed before a noun. In short, “viel” is an adverb and “viele” is an adjective. Put simply, when you want to say "much" or "a lot", you need to choose the adverb "viel", whereas when you want to say "many" your choice of words should be the adjective "viele", though its exact ending depends on adjective ending rules, which is discuss elsewhere on my blog.
Let's look at some examples.
Er hat letzte Woche viel gearbeitet.
(He worked a lot last week)
Sie hat sich viel Mühe mit ihren Hausaufgaben gegeben.
(She put a lot of effort into her homework)
Wir haben viel Zeit in das Projekt investiert
(We invested a lot of time in the project)
Ihr kennt viele Leute in London.
(You guys know many people in London)
Es gibt viele Kleeblätter im Garten
(There are many cloverleaves in the garden)
Es gefällt vielen Menschen im Sommer mehr Zeit draußen zu verbringen
(Many people like to spend more time outside in the summer)
NB. It reads "vielen" Menschen in the last sentence because it is dative plural. Check my explanation on adjective endings in German for more information.
I hope it is now clear what the difference between viel and viele is about. Let me know in the comments section if you have any questions. Feel free to also post sentences where you are still not sure which word to choose.
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