many versus multiple

There Is A Word You Need To Stop Using Immediately

I’m going to save you before the language police arrive to arrest you.

BY Rick Bursky
Nov.30,2019 / UPDATED ON JUN.02,2021

I know what you’re thinking right about now, “you have multiple Christmas presents to buy.” No, you don’t, you have many Christmas presents to buy. Or, you might be thinking that you “… plan to take multiple days off next month.” Again, you’re not thinking of taking multiple days off next month. You’re thinking of taking several days off next month.

The word you need to stop using is multiple, unless you’re a math teacher (or math student), of course.

When did the word multiple get promoted and weasel its way into everyday language? You’re an adult. It’s time you learned to speak correctly. And I don’t care that you’ve heard the news anchor use the word multiple many times. He, or she, is probably using it wrong. 

Let’s start with the simple fact that multiple and many are not synonyms; they might be close, but no cigar. Many means a large number. If there are seven cars in the parking lot you should say, there are many cars in the parking lot, not, there are multiple cars in the parking lot. Multiple means that many elements or parts belong to or are involved in one thing or a single event. If a reporter says that an airline crashed because four things went wrong on the plane, it would be correct to say “the plane crashed because multiple things went wrong.”

Of course, multiple is also a math term. By the way, several is different than many, but I don’t want to confuse the issue here. This article is a simple many versus multiple story. If the only thing I accomplish today is to get you to stop using the word multiple, then my job here is done. I have multiple other articles to write, oops; I mean many other articles to write. Like this one about fighting crime from ice cream trucks, and that one about how to fact check fake news.

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