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What does few, little and some mean?



 
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What does few, little and some mean? #1 (permalink) Fri Apr 27, 2007 17:07 pm   What does few, little and some mean?
 

English Language Tests, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #249 "Few, a little and some (1)", question 10

My boss is very particular about everything and he has very ......... tolerance for silly mistakes.

(a) few
(b) little
(c) some

English Language Tests, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #249 "Few, a little and some (1)", answer 10

My boss is very particular about everything and he has very little tolerance for silly mistakes.

Correct answer: (b) little
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I want to know what few, little and some means.

Thanks!
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What does few, little and some mean? #2 (permalink) Fri Apr 27, 2007 20:25 pm   What does few, little and some mean?
 

"few" is usually used with a quantifiable unit...something you can count and it means a small number like two or three. "some" and "little" can be used for all situations. To me "some" is more than "little" but I know of no hard and fast rules on this.

In this test, "few" is wrong because "tolerance" is not quantifiable. "Little" and "some" can be right except that we simply don't use "very some" together so it has to be "very little". Also, if you'd used, "he has some tolerance" here, while grammatically correct, it would not have made sense.
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What does few, little and some mean? #3 (permalink) Fri Apr 27, 2007 21:25 pm   What does few, little and some mean?
 

couple = two

"Couple" is really the only definite -- it must be two.

The rest depend on the judgment of the speaker/writer, within general parameters:

few = 3 or 4 (approximately -- but at least three, not more than about five -- fairly narrow range)

several = at least four... up to as many as eight or nine (approximately)
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What does few, little and some mean? #4 (permalink) Sat Apr 28, 2007 2:15 am   What does few, little and some mean?
 

.
From Random House:

—Idiom
a couple of: more than two, but not many, of; a small number of; a few: 'It will take a couple of days for the package to get there.' Also, a couple.

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