# Many vs. Few: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Updated on October 11, 2023
"Many" refers to a large number of items or individuals, while "Few" indicates a small number of them.

## Key Differences

"Many" is utilized to denote a large quantity or a high degree of something, suggesting abundance or a substantial amount. "Few," conversely, speaks to a minimal quantity or degree, indicating scarcity or a limited amount.
"Many" acts as a quantifier that implies more than expected or a lot, often indicating excess or multitude. In contrast, "Few" introduces an element of scarcity or insufficiency, usually denoting not as much as may be expected or desired.
When employing "Many," there is an implication of a notable number or plethora of items or individuals. Whereas using "Few" suggests that the number of items or individuals is notably small or less than expected.
"Many" can indicate a large number in a positive, negative, or neutral connotation, simply focusing on quantity. "Few" can similarly bear positive, negative, or neutral connotations, but it always directs attention to a lesser quantity.
"Many" can be used in both affirmative sentences and questions when discussing a large number of countable items. "Few" operates similarly grammatically, used in affirmative sentences and questions, but points to a smaller number of countable items.

## Comparison Chart

Large number
Small number

More
Less

Numerous
Scarce

### Common Use Case

Affirmative statements and questions
Affirmative statements and questions

### Example Situation

Expressing abundance
Expressing lack

## Many and Few Definitions

#### Many

"Many" denotes a large number of countable items.
Many students passed the exam.

#### Few

"Few" conveys a limited amount in quantity.
She has few friends in the city.

#### Many

"Many" can be used to describe numerous entities.
She has visited many countries.

#### Few

"Few" denotes not many but more than one.
Few people attended the meeting.

#### Many

"Many" can refer to the larger portion in a division.
Many of the apples were ripe.

#### Few

Amounting to or consisting of a small number
One of my few bad habits. See Usage Note at less.

#### Many

Amounting to or consisting of a large indefinite number
Many friends.

#### Few

Being more than one but indefinitely small in number
Bowled a few strings.

#### Many

Being one of a large indefinite number; numerous
Many a child.
Many another day.

#### Few

An indefinitely small number of persons or things
A few of the books have torn jackets.

#### Many

The majority of the people; the masses
"The many fail, the one succeeds" (Tennyson).

#### Few

An exclusive or limited number
The discerning few.
The fortunate few.

#### Many

A large indefinite number
A good many of the workers had the flu.

#### Few

(preceded by another determiner) An indefinite, but usually small, number of.
There are a few cars (=some, but a relatively small number) in the street.
Quite a few people (=a significant number) were pleasantly surprised.
I think he's had a few drinks. [This usage is likely ironic.]

#### Many

An indefinite large number of.
Not many such people enjoyed playing chess.
There are very many different ways to cook a meal.

#### Few

(used alone) Not many; a small (in comparison with another number stated or implied) but somewhat indefinite number of.
There are very few people who understand quantum theory.
I was expecting a big crowd at the party, but very few people (=almost none) turned up.

#### Many

(in combinations such as 'as many', 'so many', 'this many') Used to indicate, demonstrate or compare the number of people or things.
We don't need this many bananas. Put some back.
There may be as many as ten million species of insect.
I don't have as many friends as my sister does.

#### Few

Obscuring one to two oktas (eighths) of the sky.
Tonight: A few clouds. Increasing cloudiness overnight.
NOAA definition of the term "few clouds": An official sky cover classification for aviation weather observations, descriptive of a sky cover of 1/8 to 2/8. This is applied only when obscuring phenomena aloft are present--that is, not when obscuring phenomena are surface-based, such as fog.

#### Many

An indefinite large number of people or things.
Many are called, but few are chosen.

#### Few

(US?) Having a 10 percent chance of measurable precipitation (0.01 inch); used interchangeably with isolated.

#### Many

A multitude; a great aggregate; a mass of people; the generality; the common herd.
Democracy must balance the rights of the few against the will of the many.

#### Few

Few people, few things.
Many are called, but few are chosen.

#### Many

A considerable number.

#### Few

Not many; small, limited, or confined in number; - indicating a small portion of units or individuals constituting a whole; often, by ellipsis of a noun, a few people.
Few know and fewer care.

#### Many

Existing in large number; numerous.

#### Few

An indefinite but relatively small number;
They bought a case of beer and drank a few

#### Many

A retinue of servants; a household.

#### Few

A small elite group;
It was designed for the discriminating few

#### Many

The populace; the common people; the majority of people, or of a community.
After him the rascal many ran.

#### Few

A quantifier that can be used with count nouns and is often preceded by `a'; a small but indefinite number;
A few weeks ago
A few more wagons than usual
An invalid's pleasures are few and far between
Few roses were still blooming
Few women have led troops in battle

#### Many

A large or considerable number.
A many of our bodies shall no doubtFind native graves.
Seeing a great many in rich gowns.
It will be concluded by many that he lived like an honest man.
He is liable to a great many inconveniences.

#### Few

"Few" indicates a small number of something.
Few apples were left on the tree.

#### Many

Consisting of a great number; numerous; not few.
Thou shalt be a father of many nations.
Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called.

#### Few

"Few" can express scarcity of something.
Few options were available to choose from.

#### Many

A quantifier that can be used with count nouns and is often preceded by `as' or `too' or `so' or `that'; amounting to a large but indefinite number;
Many temptations
The temptations are many
A good many
A great many
Many directions
Take as many apples as you like
Too many clouds to see
Never saw so many people

#### Few

"Few" may imply a smaller part of a total number.
Few of the proposed ideas were implemented.

#### Many

"Many" may suggest an abundance of something.
Many benefits come with exercise.

#### Many

"Many" implies more than a few but less than all.
Many are called, but few are chosen.

## FAQs

#### Does "Many" indicate a large number?

Yes, "Many" refers to a large number of countable items.

#### Can "Many" be used to describe an abundance?

Yes, "Many" can express an abundance or large quantity of something.

#### Can "Few" indicate more than one?

Yes, "Few" indicates more than one but not many.

#### Can "Few" have a neutral connotation?

Yes, "Few" can have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation.

#### Is "Many" used with countable nouns?

Yes, "Many" is typically used with countable nouns.

#### Is "Few" used to denote scarcity?

Yes, "Few" indicates a small or limited number of items.

#### Does "Few" always imply insufficiency?

No, "Few" implies a small number, not necessarily insufficiency.

#### Is "Many" always used in a positive context?

No, "Many" can be used in positive, negative, or neutral contexts.

#### Can "Few" be used in questions?

Yes, "Few" can be used in questions to refer to a small number.

#### Does "Many" imply more than "Few"?

Yes, "Many" implies a larger number in comparison to "Few."