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    #1

    what does the use of "few" in this context mean?

    Hi,

    I'd like to know what does " few " in this context mean? even if the usage is not correct can you still understand something of what the speaker means? I am trying to understand what will people's reaction be if someone uses "few" instead of " a few " in this particular context. I am doing a comparaison for the same situation with few and a few:

    A: i'm trying every possible combination of 26-digit alphanumeric codes until this warquest lets me in.

    B: won't that take few lifetimes?

    A: no worse than some of the quest objective in the game.

    does it give the feeling of sarcasme maybe?

    thanks.

  1. #2

    Re: what does the use of "few" in this context mean?

    Generally speaking, when few and little are used without a, there is some negative connotation involved.

    E.g.
    Few of the students did well in the test (=not many)
    A few of the students did well in the test (=some of)

    However, I'm not sure this is clear in the example you wrote. Let's wait for some more opinions...
    EDIT:
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    #3

    Re: what does the use of "few" in this context mean?

    I think Mariner got it exactly right. "Few" without the article has a negative connotation.

    I have few reasons for staying home tonight. (I'll probably go out.)

    I have a few reasons for staying home tonight. (I'm probably not going out.)

    Sometimes this distinction is vague:

    There are few people who understand this. (Hardly anybody understands.)

    There are a few people who understand this. (Some people understand.)

  2. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: what does the use of "few" in this context mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by rothus View Post
    Hi,

    I'd like to know what does " few " in this context mean? even if the usage is not correct can you still understand something of what the speaker means? I am trying to understand what will people's reaction be if someone uses "few" instead of " a few " in this particular context. I am doing a comparaison for the same situation with few and a few:

    A: i'm trying every possible combination of 26-digit alphanumeric codes until this warquest lets me in.

    B: won't that take few lifetimes?

    A: no worse than some of the quest objective in the game.

    does it give the feeling of sarcasme maybe?

    thanks.
    In this context, I think it should be "a few". The statement is in reaction to a task that is almost impossible. The observer's opinion is that it will take longer than the time the other person has left on the planet. "Few lifetimes" makes no sense there.


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    #5

    Thumbs up Re: what does the use of "few" in this context mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    In this context, I think it should be "a few". The statement is in reaction to a task that is almost impossible. The observer's opinion is that it will take longer than the time the other person has left on the planet. "Few lifetimes" makes no sense there.

    thank you i think i understand the difference now.
    Last edited by rothus; 14-Nov-2006 at 15:45.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: what does the use of "few" in this context mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by rothus View Post
    thank you i think i understand the difference now.
    You're welcome.

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