few - definition and synonyms

determiner, pronoun 

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Few can be used in the following ways:
as a determiner (followed by a plural noun): Few people live there now.There were a few animals in the barn.
as a pronoun: Many have tried, but few have succeeded.There were a few who refused to go. (followed by ‘of’): A few of the visitors left early.Few of the pictures are any good.
The few can be used as a noun phrase: Private schools are for the privileged few.
Few can be used as an adjective: Her few decent clothes were now dirty.
  1. 1
    some, but not many
    a few:

    Outside there are only a few streetlights.

    I spoke with a few colleagues about it.

    There were a few who failed the test.

    few of:

    A few of the plates were chipped.

    a few more:

    I’m not sure how many I’ll need, so give me a few more.

    the first/last few:

    I’ve only read the first few pages of the book.

    the past/next few:

    During the past few months, police have interviewed over 200 people.

    Everything is expected to change in the next few years.

    every few:

    Clean the cage every few days.

  2. 2
    used for emphasizing that a number of people or things is very small, especially when the number is smaller than you would like or expect

    Bush won the election by fewer than 3000 votes.

    The pictures were taken at one of his few public appearances.

    She approached several people, but few were interested.

    few of:

    Few of the retail firms are offering a home delivery service.

    the few:

    Poe and his colleagues are among the few to have tackled this question.

    The few times he did show up, he was late.

    so few:

    Why were there so few women in Parliament?

    too few:

    Too much money chasing too few goods causes inflation.

    very few:

    We get very few complaints of racial discrimination.

    be few:

    Their victories were few.

See also