Two examples from Duolingo:

  1. У этого автора большой опыт.
  2. У бабушки много опыта.

Why do I have to use большой in one case, but много in the other, when I want to express "a lot of experience"?

How do I decide which one to use?

How about other qualifiers, such as немного or мало?

Are there other nouns where these qualifiers change like that?

  • please tend to ask one question per post
    – shabunc
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 0:04

4 Answers 4


Большой is an adjective, много is an adverb. In the first sentence you describe the experience itself (big, large, great). In the second sentence you describe how much of experience (a lot of, a great amount of). It works the same as in any other language.


Well, any language have some language of redundancy - the same thing can be said this way or another. In English we can say "He is highly experienced" or something like "he has a lot of experience", when we say "большой" we mean that level of something is high, when we say "много" we indicate that quantity of something is large.

That's, pretty much, it - in this particular context they are completely interchangeable.


Just to add something, you can also say -

  • У этого авторa много опыта.

  • У бабушки большой опыт.

Both are legit and have the same meaning as yours. So you don't really need to decide between "много" and "большой" in this case.

There are some situations where you need to choose specific word e.g

  • У меня большая машина - I have a large car.
  • У меня много машин - I have lots of cars.

I would say that "большая", "маленькая", etc are mostly used when you describe the size of something, and you're not trying to count it. Whereas "много" "мало" "немного" "несколько" indicate the number of things you're talking about.


Just to add some words to the previous opinion that I share, about немного и мало. Немного means "some" or "a little", a small quantity, whereas мало is "little","few", lacking quantity, not enough. I think it is just an addition to the first part, and there is no need to separate them. У этого авторА- misprint.

  • thanks, I made an edit to correct the typo. Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 19:57

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