"Several" vs. "Few" in the English Grammar

Several vs. Few

Several and few are similar in their meanings, but there is a slight difference between them.

"Several" vs. "Few" in the English Grammar

What Are Their Main Differences?

At first, it is important to know that both 'few' and 'several' refer to a small number. 'Few' refers to 'almost nothing' for example if you consider it as a number it is between 'one or two.' 'Several' refers to a small number, but it is more than 'few' less than 'many'. For example, if we consider it as a number it is 6 or 7. Remember all these numbers are approximate and they can change depending on the context.

Differences

What Several and Few Mean

'Several' and 'few' mean not many. 'Several' means 'some' and it is more in number than 'few'. 'Few' refers to a small number which is barely considered some only when the article [a] is used before the term 'few.'

Few people die because of the smallpox nowadays.

Several animals are being killed by the hunters in this jungle.

Similarities

Using Plural Nouns

  • 'Several' and 'few':

are followed by plural countable nouns. Remember, they do not refer to amounts, so, you cannot use uncountable nouns after them. Since they are used with plural countable nouns they require plural verbs after them, as well.

I have been in Italy several times.

They have burned the cookies few times before the cooking competition.

Grammatical Functions

  • 'Several' and 'few':
  1. Determiners
  2. Pronouns

As you know, determiners are used before nouns to modify them. Pronouns are used alone without any noun placing immediately after them. 'Few' and 'several' follow all these rules as pronouns and determiners.

Let me buy few things at the mall first. → determiner

They have read several books. → determner

"Have you ever read any of his books?" "Yes, I have read several." → pronoun

He was in jail, and few believed that he is innocent. → pronoun

How Exact They Are

  1. 'Few'and 'several:

As it was mentioned earlier 'few' and 'several' do not specify an exact number.

I lost few things in the hotel room.

Several apples fell from the tree.

Few of and Several of

  • 'Few' and 'several':

can be immediately followed by plural nouns. But whenever there is a noun phrase we mean a determiner+a noun or a pronoun, after them, They follow this structure:
[Few/several+ noun phrase], or [few/several+pronoun]. Remember, since there is not any noun immediately after 'few' and 'several', they are considered pronouns in this case.

There were many colors in the painting, but only few of them were cold colors.

Several of my friends are living abroad and they have no problems with it.

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