fewer, fewest
1) DET: DET pl-n You use a few to indicate that you are talking about a small number of people or things. You can also say a very few.

I gave a dinner party for a few close friends...

We had a few drinks afterwards...

Here are a few more ideas to consider...

She was silent for a few seconds.

Few is also a pronoun.

Doctors work an average of 90 hours a week, while a few are on call for up to 120 hours... A strict diet is appropriate for only a few.

QUANT: QUANT of def-pl-n
Few is also a quantifier.

There are many ways eggs can be prepared; here are a few of them. ...a little tea-party I'm giving for a few of the teachers.

2) ADJ: adj/det ADJ n You use few after adjectives and determiners to indicate that you are talking about a small number of things or people.

The past few weeks of her life had been the most pleasant she could remember...

The leaders are expected to fly to Mecca in the next few days to seal the agreement.

...in the last few chapters...

A train would pass through there every few minutes at that time of day.

couple of
3) DET: DET pl-n You use few to indicate that you are talking about a small number of people or things. You can use `so', `too' and `very' in front of few.

She had few friends, and was generally not functioning up to her potential...

Few members planned to vote for him...

Very few firms collect the tax, even when they're required to do so by law.

Few is also a pronoun.

The trouble is that few want to buy, despite the knockdown prices on offer. ...a true singing and songwriting talent that few suspected.

QUANT: QUANT of def-pl-n
Few is also a quantifier.

Few of the beach houses still had lights on... Few of the volunteers had military experience.

Few is also an adjective.

...spending her few waking hours in front of the TV... His memories of his father are few.

4) N-SING: the N The few means a small set of people considered as separate from the majority, especially because they share a particular opportunity or quality that the others do not have.

This should not be an experience for the few.

...a system built on academic excellence for the few.

5) PHRASE: PHR num (emphasis) You use as few as before a number to suggest that it is surprisingly small.

One study showed that even as few as ten cigarettes a day can damage fertility...

The factory may make as few as 1,500 cars this year.

6) PHRASE: v-link PHR (emphasis) Things that are few and far between are very rare or do not happen very often.

Successful women politicians are few and far between...

In this economic climate new ideas were few and far between.

rare, uncommon
7) PHRASE: PHR n, PHR of n (emphasis) You use not a few when you are referring to quite a lot of things or people. You can also use a good few in this way, mainly in British English.

I've made this argument, and not a few people would disagree with me...

I think a good few of the others were like me, a bit confused.

8) PHRASE: V inflects If you say that someone has had a few too many or has had a few, you mean that they have drunk too many alcoholic drinks. [INFORMAL]

A breathalyzer tells you you've a had a few too many.

9) PHRASE: PHR num (emphasis) You use no fewer than to emphasize that a number is surprisingly large.

No fewer than thirteen foreign ministers attended the session.

English dictionary. 2008.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • few — W1S1 [fju:] determiner, pron, adj comparative fewer superlative fewest [: Old English; Origin: feawa] 1.) [no comparative] a small number of things or people a few ▪ I have to buy a few things at the supermarket. ▪ Pam called to say she s going… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • few — [ fju ] (comparative fewer; superlative fewest) function word, quantifier *** Few can be used in the following ways: as a determiner (followed by a plural noun): Few people live there now. There were a few animals in the barn. as a pronoun: Many… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • Few — (f[=u]), a. [Compar. {Fewer} (f[=u] [ e]r); superl. {Fewest}.] [OE. fewe, feawe, AS. fe[ a], pl. fe[ a]we; akin to OS. f[=a]h, OHG. f[=o] fao, Icel. f[=a]r, Sw. f[*a], pl., Dan. faa, pl., Goth. faus, L. paucus, cf. Gr. pay^ros. Cf. {Paucity}.]… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • few — ► DETERMINER , PRONOUN , & ADJECTIVE 1) (a few) a small number of. 2) not many. ► NOUN (the few) ▪ a select minority. ● few and far between Cf. ↑few and far between …   English terms dictionary

  • few — (adj.) O.E. feawe (plural; contracted to fea) few, seldom, even a little, from P.Gmc. *faw , from PIE root *pau few, little (Cf. L. paucus few, little, paullus little, parvus little, small, pauper poor; Gk. pauros …   Etymology dictionary

  • few — [fyo͞o] adj. [ME fewe < OE feawe, feawa, pl., akin to OFris fē, Goth fawai, pl. < IE base * pōu , small, little > L paucus, Gr pauros, little] not many; a small number of [few seats were left, a few people came] pron. not many; a small… …   English World dictionary

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  • few — 1. Few may be used with or without preceding a, although the sense is slightly different. There were few seats left means there were not many (and is negative in implication), whereas There were a few seats left means that some were still left… …   Modern English usage

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  • few — [adj] hardly any exiguous, few and far between*, imperceptible, inconsequential, inconsiderable, infrequent, insufficient, lean, less, meager, middling, minor, minority, minute, negligible, not many, not too many*, occasional, paltry, petty,… …   New thesaurus

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