Is the difference 多少 and 几 simply "how much" versus "how many"?

I've read difference sources with different perspectives, some talking about expected number (1-10 vs. 10+), others about money vs. non-money. Is there a more definitive answer on usage?

  • Searched site for previous discussion ?, also answer in any grammar. "外国人实用汉语语法"第七节|代词(三)疑问代词(五)疑问代词"多少"和"几"1。"多少"代表的数量可大可小:"几"常代表1-9的数字。例如:这个大学有多少(个)学生?那个城市有多少(个)人?你有多少(本)中文书?你家有几口人?他买几双鞋?这儿有十几本中文书?2。"多少"和名词可以直接联系,中间可不用量词;"几"和名词之间一定要用量词。例如:你们班有多少同学?你要几双筷子?你有多少中文书?你学几种语言?你们上午有几节课?他买几条鱼?一定不能说"他买几鞋"、"你有几本子"、"你住几房间"、"这是几衣服"等。longer section from "实用现代汉语语法"may follow. – user6065 Oct 16 '16 at 20:36
  • "实用现代汉语语法"几、多少|"几"和"多少"都可以用来询问数量,但是用法不同。 (一) "几"用来问"一"至"十"之间的数字,而"多少"可以问任何一个数字。但如果答案很明显是在"十"以下时,以用"几"为宜。例如:1。一个星期有几天?2。你有几个孩子?3。世界有几大洋?4。这个城市有几座大桥?上述句子的答案明显都在"十"以下。又如:1。天上有多少颗星星?2。你们班有多少学生?3。那个幼儿园有多少个孩子?4。那件行李有多少公斤?这些句子的答案明显在"十"以上。(二) "几"与名词连用时,中间通常要插入适当的量词,而"多少"与名词连用时,其间的量词可有可无。例如:1。这是几吨煤?2。你买了几斤苹果?3。这种稿纸一页有多少(个)字?4。那个剧场里一共有多少(个)座位?"几"和"多少"也可以和动量词连用。例如:1。刚才时钟敲了几下儿?2。你来过几次中国?3。你跳绳一分钟能跳多少次?但不能与不定量词"些"、"点儿"连用。 – user6065 Oct 16 '16 at 23:12
  • (三) "几"可用在"个"、"十"、"百"、"千"、"万"、"十万"、"百万"、"千万"等等位数词前、而"多少"只能用在"亿"、"万"和"个"三个位数词前。例如:1。你有几个兄弟姐妹?2。你这个村子有几十户人家?3。这种放大机能放大几十倍?4.新盖的礼堂能容纳几千人?5。这本书一共有二十几万字?6。这台算机没秒运转几百万次?7。今年的财政收入是多少亿?8。那座新兴的城市有多少万人? (四) "几"前可用疑问代词"哪","多少"不能。例如:1。你喜欢学习哪几门课程?2。这篇短文里,哪几个字你不认识?3。这个星期,你哪几天比较空闲?"几"除了作数量疑问代词外,还可用一表示不定的数量。例如:1。横幅上写着"汉语演讲比赛"几个大字。2。街上,几个小伙子在练长跑。3。因为下午来了几十个人支援我们,任务很快就完成了。"多少"有时也表示不确定的"量"。例如:4。为了这一天,他付出了多少代价啊。(意思是"很多")5。他的试卷没一次多少也得有点错误。(意思是"或多或少") – user6065 Oct 16 '16 at 23:26
  • @user6065 I am not sure why you keep dumping these into the comment section. The OP is clearly a beginner, so he/she won't be able to read them at all. No offense intended, though. – Drunken Master Oct 17 '16 at 18:02
  • the grammar books in question use very simple language and interesting and useful examples (which may contain some unfamiliar words which can easily be looked up), also any comment or answer is intended for the use of all users not just OP 相关语法课本所用的语言非常简单而同时包含着既有趣味又有用的例句(会可能包括不认识的词语,但是后者并不难查看),另外所有评论或者答案是为所有用户甚至所有读者阅读而编的,而不只是 为楼主阅读的。 – user6065 Oct 17 '16 at 20:47

the difference is rather simple:

asking about quantity, you can always use 多少.

几个 would be used as you expect the quantity to be low.

几块钱? a few box (5, 8,..)

In English, we use "how many" for countable nouns and "how much" for uncountable nouns. But in Chinese, there's no difference between countable and uncountable when it comes to measure or describe the quantity of something.

We say "how many men" and "how much money" ; both "how many" and "how much" in Chinese is「多少」. "How many men" = 「多少人」; "How much money" = 「多少錢」

  • 」 (adj): a few ; several - Example: 個人一齊做 ( a few people do it together)

  • 」 (adv): quite; considerably - Example: 「好」( quite good),「快」 ( quite fast)

  • 」 (adv): how; how many / how much ; what

Examples:

「幾多?」(how many? / how much?)

幾時?」(what time? = when?)

「(有)幾好?」(how good?)

「(有)幾快?」 (how fast?)

「多少」(how many) is a phrase used to ask or talk about an amount ;「幾」 is mainly an adverb (how / what). For example: 「幾」(how)+「多」(many) = 「幾多」(how many) ; 「幾」(what)+ 「時」(time) = 「幾時」(what time / when)

「多少?」and 「幾多?」only mean " how many?" but 「幾」has other usages.

When should I use 多少 or 几?

When asking [how many of something] or [how much of something] you can use either[多少+(something)]or [幾多+(something)], for example: 多少人 or 幾多人

You can omit 多 in 幾多 in some cases when you want to use a more classical style of speech. Which means you can use: "幾人? " instead of "幾多人?"

Is the difference 多少 and 几 simply "how much" versus "how many"?  

The different usages of 多少 and 几 have been explained in the body of this post

  • Mandarin prefer to say "有多好?" , "有多快?" – Tang Ho Oct 16 '16 at 21:30
  • 1
    This answer does not explain the difference between 多少 and 几, which is what the question was about. – ncasas Oct 16 '16 at 21:31
  • Please notice "几多、几好、几快、几多人” is not used in Mandarin. – EmmaXL Oct 18 '16 at 2:03

If the things you are referring to are, well let's say, more than 12. It is proper to use 多少. Conversely, you want to use 几 or 幾 (in traditional Chinese) when referring to a smaller number of objects.

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