Several vs. Multiple

Several and multiple differ in the number they refer to. In this lesson we will learn all about them.

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

What Are Their Main Differences?

'Multiple' is used for large quantities; while several refers to smaller quantities.


Grammatical Functions

  • 'Multiple' is used as:
  1. an adjective
  2. a noun

Multiple as an adjective is used only before nouns, and it means many or involving many things. Multiple as a noun, means a number that contains a smaller number an exact number of times.

Having multiple duties made him confused. → adjective

One hundred is a multiple of twenty. → noun

  • 'Several' is used as:
  1. a determiner
  2. a pronoun
  3. an adjective

As a determiner, 'several' must be used before plural countable nouns. As a pronoun, 'several' is used alone without being followed by a noun. As an adjective, 'several' can be used after the verb 'be' and before nouns. And the point is that it means separate.

Several people went to the charity. → determiner

Several study in difficult conditions. → pronoun

They have several rooms, so the slumber party wouldn't bother her brother. → adjective


What They Refer to

  • 'Several' and 'multiple':

Both refer to quantities. You might ask what quantifiers are. The answer is quantifiers are the terms that refer to a quantity. The quantity can be a number or an amount.

The cat was loved by multiple pecks.

The lawyer submitted multiple copies of the evidence to the court.

After several minutes he finally answered my call.


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