Weird grammar. "How many resources/how much resources" as a non-discrete quantity?

I was reading about something and wondering what quantity of natural resources it would require to accomplish, as a general way of understanding the magnitude of the project. But I hit a bit of a grammatical stumbling block trying to form this question in my head:

“How many resources (would this take)?” - this isn’t right because it implies a discrete quantity, which I would read to mean “how many types of resources would this take?” and not “what quantity of resources”.

“How much resources?” Obviously this doesn’t sound right either because “resources” is a plural word and “much”, though it implies a continuous quantity, typically takes a singular noun. But “How much resource” doesn’t work either.

So the only way I can think of to say this is “what quantity of resources would this take?” But that seems like a mouthful. Is there no other way to phrase this question (aside from being more specific than “resources” or “natural resources” and instead saying something like “how much coal” or “how much energy”)?

How much resource would this take?

How much data do you need? (Not, “How many data do you need?”)

So, I’d find “How much resources would this take?” equally logical.

Resources as a word is plural so my natural instinct is to go for ‘how many’.

‘How much resource’ I find clunky, I’d go for ‘how much of this (or the) resource’

Good luck.

While “data” is the plural form of “datum” it is more usually used as a mass noun:

How much data do you need?
How much sand do you need?

vs. a count noun:

How *many *bricks do you need.

The most colloquial workaround that comes to me is “How much would this take in terms of resources?” In a formal written context, though, I think your “quantity of resources” wording is as good as anything.

I would say, “What resources would this take?”

If you say “How many?” I might answer, “Two: coal and wind.”

“How much resources” does sound a little twisted even if that’s actually what you mean. But I don’t think it’s wrong.

I’ll grant that mine is ambiguous, but I think if someone were in a conversation without overthinking the phrase, that’s what would pop out.

I will take this opportunity to lament the use in business of the word “resource” as a synonym for “living, breathing, human being” as in, “We need to hire two more resources for the new project.”

You wouldn’t usually use much with a countable noun, and resource used in that way is a countable noun. ‘How much resources’ is terribly clumsy and looks more like you’re using resource as a verb.

But yeah, ‘how many resources’ does sound like you’re talking about types of resources. That’s because you are - you’re just talking about how much of those varying resources. Imagine a different situation where you were talking about the quantity of multiple items: ‘how much of the varying departments,’ perhaps, or ‘what amount of discrete examples,’ ‘what proportion of the different species.’

Your ‘what quantity of…’ is perfectly fine as a way of expressing both quantity and variety - ‘resource’ isn’t unusual in that this way.

Another vote for ‘how much resource’ being the clunky but most correct solution.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like there must be lots of other situations like this in English. Say we’re talking about cheese. If I say “How many cheeses did you eat?” it sounds like I’m asking how many types of cheese you ate. I certainly wouldn’t say “How much cheeses-”, that’s totally a number disagreement. “How much cheese?” sounds ideal to me. But then, there’s a single unit that can be used to express cheese quantity, but that’s not really true of resources.

Another way of thinking about it. Say a project is going to require two lumps of coal, a bar of steel, and ten watts of power. You ask your question… but what answer do you want?

If you ask “How many resources do we need?” they might say “three”. If you ask “How much resource do we need?” they might say “thirteen*”. Perhaps “How much of each resource do we need?” would work but that presupposes that you already know which resources are needed. The best I’ve got is some form of “Which resources do we need, and how much of them?” Alternatively, perhaps this problem would be sidestepped by some universal unit of resource value… so the best form of your question then would be “What will it cost?” :slight_smile:

*Although admittedly this answer would be kind of a dick move.

“How much” is a different grammar construction than “much/many + noun.” “How much,” is a type of “wh-” word that is stated in two-words (Others would include How long, How far, etc.) that refers to cost or amount:
How much is that purse? The purse costs $5.
How much does it weigh? It weighs 10 lbs.
We have many friends/much trash.

To clarify types vs amount, I would suggest:
How much in resources…
How much of each resource…
How much total resources…

Exactly what I would choose. “Resources” aren’t a specific quantifiable thing, so to ask how much of them you need is pretty meaningless. If it’s “how much coal” or “how many gallons of water”, then fine, but “how much resource(s)” is silly without specifying which resources they are.

You can treat “resource” as a mass noun with no plural, in which case, “how much resource” is correct. Or as a count noun, in which case “how many resources” is right. The latter seems to refer to many different kinds of resources, while the former to the sheer quantity.

Personally, I would tend to treat it as a count noun with a plural and many ask, “What quantity of resources…”)

What about, “How much of, and what(or which) resources do we need?” If you know you are only talking about one type of resource, then you could name it specifically, as in, “How much coal do we need?” If you know you are talking about more than one, then any useful answer would have to break the description down. So you could add the question about which resources you’re talking about, and avoid the awkward construction.

Sorry. These are wrong. My answer is the most correct.

Is the person you asking aware of which resources you mean? If so, I don’t know why you wouldn’t ask “How much of each resource would this take?” as Superhal and Dinaroozie suggest, which would result in them giving you a list of amounts to tally up. If they don’t know which ones you mean, obviously you’d have to ask each specifically anyway.

I’ve never heard of a non-count noun (Water, air, rice, beef) that looks plural. It’s “How many resources…” If that sounds awkward, “What resources will be needed?”

What other way is to there to measure resources other than to count them? “How much” requires some sort of measurement. It sounds to me like what you want to ask is “What resources are needed?” since you say you are not asking “How many types of resourced are needed?” The only other question I can possibly come up with is “What percentage of each resource is needed?”

“How much resources do you need?” sounds wrong because it really doesn’t have a distinct meaning.