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Difference Between 'Sehr' And 'Viel'

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When do you use sehr and when do you use viel? The following are some tips on when to use these much-used words.

  1. sehr, adv.

    • Definition: very

      When you can replace sehr with ‘very’, then it will be placed right before the adjective: Der Mann war sehr nervös.(The man was very nervous.)

      Sehr will be placed before the adjective even if there is already another adverb describing the adjective:
      Der Mann war wirklich sehr nett. (The man was really very kind.)


    • Definition: a lot

      When associated with verbs, sehr will express the intensity of an action. In these cases, sehr will be placed after the verb:

      Es schmeckt mir sehr. (It tastes very good to me.)
      Sie erwartet sehr auf deine Rückkehr. (She awaits very much for your return.)

      Expressions with sehr

      zu sehr->too much
      Er hat mich zu sehr geärgert (He got me too upset.)

      Wie sehr –> How much
      Wie sehr er sie vermisst (How much he misses her.)

  2. viel, indef. pronoun, adj.

    • Definition: a lot, much

      When associated with verbs, viel will express the quantity and will be placed before the verb as opposed to in English:
      Das Kind hat viel gegessen (The child ate a lot.)

      Expressions:
      zu viel -> too much Sie spricht zu viel (She talks too much.)

      viel zu viel -> way too much
      Er isst viel zu viel. (He eats way too much.)


    Of course, the phrase sehr viel (very much/ a lot) is also very popular and is used to express the quantity of something:
    Sie liebt ihn sehr viel. (She loves him very much.)



Exercise:
Fill in the following sentences with either sehr or viel.

  1. Ich habe dich ______ lieb.   ( I love you very much.)

  2. Der Mann hat _______ Geld.    (The man has a lot of money.)

  3. Wir schätzen ihn _______.    (We esteem him greatly.)

  4. Sie ist eine ______ berühmte Sängerin.    (She is a very famous singer.)

  5. Ich habe ________ auf dich gewartet.    (I waited for you much.)

  6. Meine Eltern freuen sich _________, mich wiederzusehen.   (My parents are very happy to see me again.)

  7. Wir danken dir _______.    (We thank you a lot.)

  8. Mein Onkel schläft _________.    (My uncle sleeps a lot.)

  9. Sie fehlt mir ________.    (I miss her a lot.)

  10. Meine Tochter hat heute _______ Klavier geübt.    (My daughter played a lot of piano today.)

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