Now that we’ve covered the intricacies of some, let’s talk about many and most in LSAT Logical Rreasoning. These ones are easier now that you’re in the right frame of mind.
There’s a good chance that many means something pretty close to what you used to think some meant. Dictionaries define it as “a large number” or “more than a few” or even “the majority” when it’s used as a noun, but those aren’t as helpful on the LSAT because 1) they are vague, and 2) the LSAT doesn’t typically use many as a noun.
So, is there a more workable definition of many? Yes and no.
The easiest way to define many is simply as “more than one.” Some people will argue with this and say that many can’t mean two. I have a pragmatic response to that argument: I’ve never seen an LSAT question that tells you that there are exactly two of something and then asks you whether there are many of that thing. If you happen to find such an example, by all means prove me wrong! 🙂 Instead, most LSAT questions containing the term many hinge on differentiating between none, all, one, most, or many. In that sense, you don’t even need to worry much about the difference between some and many, since the two fill basically the same purpose in most cases, except where some could signify only 1 of something.
But also no.
Because technically speaking, many does mean “a large number,” and that’s a relative term. If a Logical Reasoning question mentioned that millions of people suffer from heartburn, and then told you that there were three cases of heartburn sufferers who died from acid reflux, it would be a stretch to say that many heartburn sufferers die of acid reflux. In a situation like that, it’s nice to be able to call upon the technical definition of the word and think critically about the scenario.
But Practically Speaking…
The LSAT would probably never ask that question. Using many in a situation like that creates a debatable answer, and that’s anathema to standardized test makers. Test questions need to have objectively correct answers, so they can’t rely too heavily on terms being used in ambiguous ways. Therefore, your best bet is to stick to the simplest, most inclusive definition, which is “more than one.”
And for those of you who are frantically scouring WebMD for articles on heartburn right now, don’t freak out. I just made that all up.
Most is way easier than the other terms we’ve looked at so far. It means one thing, unambiguously: more than half.
If there are 100 birds in the park and 50 of them have white feathers, you can not say that most of the birds in the park have white feathers. You need at least 51 white-feathered birds to be able to say that.
Here’s a slightly more challenging example: if I make lemonade with 3 cups of water, 2 cups of lemon juice, and 1 cup of sugar, then I can not say that water makes up most of the beverage. However, if I add even one extra drop of water, then it suddenly becomes true that my lemonade is mostly water. That extra drop technically pushed the water content of the lemonade over the 50% mark. I couldn’t add an extra drop of white-feathered bird to the park without getting pretty gruesome, so I had to stick with whole birds there. Here, that’s not the case.
And lastly, most can apply to only one of something or to all of something. If there’s only person in a room and that person is awake, I can say that most people in the room are awake. Thus, when there’s only one of a certain item, most, all, one, and some technically all mean the same thing. Weird, right?
So remember, most signifies “more than half,” whether you’re counting in whole numbers, decimals, birds, or drops of water.
And on a closing note…
It’s worth mentioning the overlap of many and most. Let’s pretend there are 20 dogs in a park. If I pet 8 dogs, I have pet many of the dogs in the park, but I have not pet most of them. That’s the easy part. But what if there is only 1 dog in the park and I pet it? In that case, I have pet most of the dogs in the park, but I have not pet many of them. So, while overlap between these two terms is common, it is not necessary.