I know viel is declined when used as an adjective. My textbook says the word viel in the combination wie viel (how much/how many) takes no declension, but then it gives the following examples:

Wie viele Leute sitzen draußen?

Für wie viele Personen?

which seem a contradiction because an -e has been added for the plural.
What am I not getting?

1 Answer 1


As you said, "viel" can be used for countable things ("many") as well as for not countable things ("much"). For countable things, "viel" is declined:

Ich sehe viele Vögel. ("I see many birds.")

Ich gebe vielen Vögeln Futter. ("I give food to many birds.")

For not countable things, there's no declension:

Ich kaufe viel Futter. ("I buy much food.")

You can also use both cases in one sentence:

Ich gebe vielen Vögeln viel Futter. ("I give much food to many birds.")

The same principle holds for questions:

Wie viele Vögel siehst Du? ("How many birds do you see?")

Wie viel Futter brauchst Du für die vielen Vögel? ("How much food do you need for the many birds?")

  • Maybe change your example "Ich gebe vielen Vögeln viel Futter" to "Ich gebe den Vögeln viel Futter" to avoid the ambiguity that is created by the two forms of viel.
    – Arsak
    Dec 5, 2019 at 13:09
  • @infinitezero ... but it's confusing, since it's introduced with "for not countable things". I'd denote separate paragraphs to countable/non countable/both/questions to escalate it slowly enough that learners don't get confused.
    – Arsak
    Dec 5, 2019 at 13:44
  • @infinitezero yes
    – Arsak
    Dec 5, 2019 at 14:00
  • 1
    @Henning Kockerbeck, then is my book wrong when saying wie viel is not declined or is it that perhaps plural is not considered a declension?. viel is an adverd there ,right? Could you add more examples of "wie viel" declined other than wie viel and wie viele? Dec 5, 2019 at 14:08
  • @juancarlosvegaoliver According to the Duden, there's an adverb "viel" and a pronoun or numeral "viel". I'd guess that maybe with not countable things you use the adverb and with countable things the numeral? But that's beyond my knowledge of the technicalities of the German language. Dec 5, 2019 at 17:28

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