Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Same and articles with quantity adjectives


Same is a word which is generally preceded by the.
I would like the same thing she is having.

a few, a little, a great many

Certain adjectives that quantify are preceded by the indefinite article when they modify generic or nonspecific nouns.

I would like a little more milk if you please.
A few more minutes won't hurt.
A great many people came to the games.

The can also be used with these words, but the usually points to a specific or definite noun.
The few who helped will be reward.
The little wine that remains will soon spoil.
The many who came were not disappointed.

It seems like there should be an adjective clause to follow the noun to justify the definite article in these cases, but a prepositional phrase is also possible.
The few of humble beginnings served honorably as well.

Few, little, and many can also be used without an article in front of them.
Few people like to sit in the rain waiting for a bus.
Many people attended the concert.
Little is done when there is much talk.

In these cases, we seem to be making a general observation.

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