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fewer less

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WordReference Random House Learner's Dictionary of American English © 2015
few /fyu/USA pronunciation   adj., -er, -est, n., pron. 

adj. [before a plural noun]
  • not many but more than one;
    scarcely any;
    hardly any:Few artists live luxuriously.
  • [+ ~] some; several:A few artists did manage to live luxuriously.

  • n. [plural;
    used with a plural verb]
  • [+ ~] a small number or amount:Did everyone go home? No, a few were still waiting.
  • the few, a special, limited number; the minority:a concert that appeals to the few.

  • pron. [plural]
  • a small number of persons or things:Many are called, but few are chosen.
  • idiom
    1. Idiomsfew and far between, placed at widely separated intervals; not frequent or plentiful:Chances like this are few and far between.
    2. Idiomsquite a few, [before a plural noun] a fairly large number of;
      many:He had quite a few girlfriends.

    When few is used with a noun, the noun is plural:few speakers; a few speakers;
    quite a few speakers.
    Note also the slight difference in meaning between few and a few. When few is used without a the meaning is "a small amount of;
    not as many as expected'':Few learners can hope to speak Chinese perfectly.When a few is used, the meaning is more positive: "some, but not many'':A few learners can hope to speak Chinese perfectly.See little. In many grammar books, fewer and less are opposed. fewer should be used with plural count nouns:fewer books,while less is only to be used with noncount nouns:less money.In informal style, many speakers use less before plural nouns:less books,but never use fewer before noncount nouns; no one would say:fewer money.

    WordReference Random House Unabridged Dictionary of American English © 2015
    few  (fyo̅o̅), 
    adj., -er, -est, n., pron. 

  • not many but more than one:Few artists live luxuriously.
  • Idiomsfew and far between, at widely separated intervals; infrequent:In Nevada the towns are few and far between.

  • n. 
  • (used with a pl. v.) a small number or amount:Send me a few.
  • Idiomsquite a few, a fairly large number; many:There were quite a few interesting things to do.
  • the few, a special, limited number;
    the minority:That music appeals to the few.

  • pron. 
  • (used with a pl. v.) a small number of persons or things:A dozen people volunteered, but few have shown up.
  • Etymology:bef. 900;
    Middle English fewe, Old English fēawe;
    cognate with Gothic fawai;
    akin to Latin paucus few, paulus little, pauper poor, Greek paûros little, few

    Collins Concise English Dictionary © HarperCollins Publishers::

    few /fjuː/ determiner
    1. a small number of; hardly any: few men are so cruel
    2. (as pronoun; functioning as plural): many are called but few are chosen
    3. (preceded by a) a small number of: a few drinks
    4. (as pronoun; functioning as plural): a few of you
    5. a good fewinformal several
    6. few and far betweenat great intervals; widely spaced
    7. not abundant; scarce
    8. not a few, quite a fewinformal several
    1. the fewa small number of people considered as a class: the few who fell at Thermopylae
    Etymology: Old English fēawa; related to Old High German fao little, Old Norse fār little, silent

    ˈfewness n USAGE

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