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Thread: Quite a few

  1. #1
    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Quite a few

    I've been meaning to ask it for quite some time now.
    Does 'quite a few' means in fact 'many' or at least 'some' or 'few' means indeed 'few'?
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  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramil View Post
    I've been meaning to ask it for quite some time now.
    Does 'quite a few' means in fact 'many' or at least 'some' or 'few' means indeed 'few'?
    To me (American English speaker) "quite a few" is more than "few" but less than "many".

    Scott

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    Завсегдатай rockzmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fortheether View Post
    To me (American English speaker) "quite a few" is more than "few" but less than "many".

    Scott
    I agree... I would say this when my child has or hasn't done something a number of times, but not enough that I would say, always.
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  4. #4
    Hanna
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    There is a difference between American and British English here.
    I actually don't quite know what it means in American English but in British English "quite a few" is an understated way of saying "many".

    Example
    -John was rather drunk yesterday wasn't he..? How many pints did he have?
    -Don't know exactly, but quite a few, I should think! At least six!

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hanna View Post
    There is a difference between American and British English here.
    I actually don't quite know what it means in American English but in British English "quite a few" is an understated way of saying "many".

    Example
    -John was rather drunk yesterday wasn't he..? How many pints did he have?
    -Don't know exactly, but quite a few, I should think! At least six!
    In the example if the person answered "many" wouldn't that mean more than "quite a few"?

  6. #6
    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    To me, as a US English speaker, there is NOT a clear quantitative difference between "quite a few" and "many," but "quite a few" can have a more euphemistic quality in some cases.

    For example, if John has had 20 shots of vodka, saying "he drank quite a few shots" might come across as slightly more polite than saying "he had many shots" or "he had a lot of vodka". (But 20 is 20!)

    "Quite a few rapes are committed by African-American men" may sound less politically incorrect than "Many rapes..." (But the statistical percentage, whatever it may be, is still the same.)

    And "As an actor, I've received quite a few awards" seems less boastful than "...many awards." (But the total number of awards is the same.)

    So, in short, I agree with Hanna that "quite a few" is a synonym for "many", but with a spoonful of understatement -- and IMHO, it's the same in US and UK English.

  7. #7
    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    Thanks, everyone, this is much as I thought.
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  8. #8
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    I remember Jimmy Carr (famous British standup comedian) saying it at one of the shows, asking "Is there anyone from Liverpool here? Oh, quite a few of you" (seeing about 6-8 people in the audience raising hands).

  9. #9
    Завсегдатай Ramil's Avatar
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    This could indeed be 'many' depending on where he'd been performing that day.
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