"I have a few friends."

Translation:Tengo unos cuantos amigos.

5 years ago

39 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/mark123789

wouldn't "tengo pocos amigos" be a correct translation?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luis
LuisPlus
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Not really. "Tengo pocos amigos" means "I have a small number of friends".

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Nathdcfc

I have a small number of friends/ I have a few friends - This means the same thing in English - I think they should both be accepted.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/efaryna
efaryna
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I seriously wonder how so many of you have never encountered the use of "a few" used in a way to portray modesty, in which it does not mean "few" and certainly could and often does mean "a lot."

Example: Reporter: Wilt Chamberlain, how many woman have you been with? Wilt: Oh, I've been with a few. (i.e. THOUSANDS)

I'll forgive the non-native English speakers, but the natives, come on guys, you've been speaking this language your whole life.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/telemetry
telemetry
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Yeah but that's subverting the literal meaning as a figure of speech. You can underplay any number of things that way, it doesn't mean those phrases simultaneously mean one thing and the complete opposite. That's the whole point of using it as a rhetorical device!

You can write to the OED and tell them to add 'an extremely large number' to their definition of 'a few' if you like.While you're at it you can tell them that 'OK' and 'all right' also mean 'extremely good', 'it's a bit cold', means 'it's a life-threateningly low temperature', 'I'm not very good' means 'I'm very good' etc.

Honestly I'm not even sure who you're aiming this at

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/efaryna
efaryna
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It's aimed at everyone who says "few" and "a few" are the same and are upset with Duolingo for making a distinction. Specifically, Nathdcfc. They are different and I just wanted to point it out to them.

I didn't mean to imply that "a few" meant an extremely large number, just that it doesn't mean "few."

Here's a better example.

How many books are there? There are few. (i.e. not many) How many books are there? There's a few. (i.e. some, maybe not a lot) How many books are there? Hundreds. Where are they? There are a few here and a few over there. (i.e. there are some here and some there, how many? no one really knows, but it doesn't have to mean not many)

In each case, "few," and "a few," are indeterminate numbers, but only in the first case does it mean "not many."

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/telemetry
telemetry
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Ok but that's a point that's been made several times? And Nathdcfc said 'a few' and not 'few', so you're not even disagreeing here.

The issue really (and this is one of the subtleties of English) is that 'a few' actually does mean 'a small number', but it has a positive sense to it. It can literally mean a small number, or like you said it can be used in understatement, so the literal meaning and the understood meaning can differ, depending on context. 'Few' is specifically negative, it also means 'a small number' but in a very literal sense - it can't be used to understate something better because of its negativity.

People are sort of talking past each other with this 'a small number' business because they both do literally mean that. When Luis said it in this thread (the one Nathdcfc replied to) he meant it in a negative sense, like with 'few' - not many. When Nathdcfc said it they meant it in the positive sense, which is why they said it means the same as 'a few'. There's a lot of nuance here which is getting lost, but people are talking about it!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jonbriden

I already mentioned this vagueness of "a few" in English - a few months ago.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/gertdude

They may mean the same, but in the U.S. you aren't looked on as very intelligent if you go around saying you have "a small number" of friends. It's not proper grammar.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/megmccaliano

actually it is...

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jjcthorpe

I agree, " a small number/a small circle" of friends is pretty commonly used...

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/crisjordan22

They don't mean the same. If you have few friends you probably need more. Efaryna is right

2 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mark123789

thanks

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jlinguo

the translation when you hover over "few" says poco.... if you are going to state something redundant luis... please go into further detail. As far as english speakers are concerned, they mean the same.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luis
LuisPlus
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"I have a small number of friends" and "I have a few friends" do not mean the same thing in English. Maybe "I have few friends" does, but "a few" does not mean "a small number".

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jlinguo

ok its more or less like being asked how many friends you have and saying "I have a small number of friends" (meaning very little) versus kind of shrugging and saying, "meh i have a few friends" (as if you may have plenty but also you may only literally have a few). Without the person to person dialogue this is hard to understand so I hope this helps people.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/IG88
IG88
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http://dictionary.reference.com/idioms/a%20few

I'm a native English speaker and I've always understood and used "a few" to mean a small number unless it's preceded by "quite". How should I have known that "tengo pocos amigos" would be wrong?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jonbriden

Here's a good description from the Oxford English Dictionary...

"few" usually implies antithesis with "many", while in "a few", "some few" the antithesis is with "none at all". Cf. "few, or perhaps none", "a few, or perhaps many".

How should you have known that "tengo pocos amigos" would be wrong? You shouldn't have known, but hopefully now you do.

Spanish is not English, and assuming that a word-for-word translation will always work will cause you quite a few problems. :)

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/airandfingers

"a few" typically means 3-7.. less than 10, which is quite a small number of friends for most people. As someone else pointed out, "I have quite a few friends" is a better translation for this sentence.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lynnecover

Tengo unos pocos amigos was accepted

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/jonbriden

Luis is correct. "Poco" ALWAYS means a small number, as does "few" (by itself) in English.

However once you go to "a few" you are getting into much more vague usage, and it will depend on HOW it is said.

"He has few friends" is explicit. It means he does not have many.

"He has quite a few friends" is also explicit. It means he has a lot.

"He has a few friends" is vague, but generally means anything from an acceptable number of friends, up to a lot.

If I say "He has a few friends" without emphasis then it's probably towards the lower end, of what is considered an adequate number.

Whereas if I say "Oh yeah, he has a few friends" I could easily be talking about someone who has an almost ridiculous number of friends.

"Unos cuantos" is a pretty close translation to "a few". It is also somewhat vague, and can also mean anything from just adequate up to a lot, depending on intonation and context.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/midmo63359

Best explanation I've read on this matter. I would also suggest that tone of voice plays a part in the understanding of the vague "He has a few friends". If said sarcastically it would mean the opposite of a few.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/fabb
fabb
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What's with "Tengo unos amigos". So far unos alone seemed correct.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LGh
LGh
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What's wrong with "tengo unos amigos"?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Thasvaddef
Thasvaddef
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I got marked wrong for ticking Tengo unos cuantos amigas as well as Tengo unos cuantos amigos. Very annoying since I know what both sentences mean but I still have to read Duolingo's mind.

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/telemetry
telemetry
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Pretty sure that should be unas cuantas amigas - Duo does a lot of that, throwing out options with inconsistent gender to make sure you can spot bad grammar

4 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thebreef
thebreefPlus
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decided to switch to amigas at the last moment and i forgot to changes cuantos into cuantas. thanks

3 weeks ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Len_H
Len_H
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In english small number and a few are interchangeable, thank you

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/siebolt
siebolt
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Nobody answered the question about "tengo unos amigos". Why is that wrong?

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lynnecover

Because you're just saying 'I have some friends'

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/raskolnik

It's not IMO.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/telemetry
telemetry
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A lot of the confusion in here seems to be between "few" and "a few", which have very different meanings. "A few" just means a small number. "Few" has a negative implication, meaning 'not many', 'less than you'd expect'.

"He has a few friends" - he has a small circle of friends, not a huge number but he does have some! "He has few friends" - less than you would expect, implying nobody likes him or he pushes people away.

Sort of a glass half full/half empty thing, if you want to look at it that way!

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hroes
hroes
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made it through this lesson in five attempts and am still totally confused about the difference between unos cuantos and pocos

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OlzWolz
OlzWolz
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unos cuantos = a few pocos = few.

Think of the semantic difference between saying "I have few friends" and "I have a few friends". It is subtle but it is there. I think "I have few friends" has a more negative connotation.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/hroes
hroes
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ooh, subtle indeed, thanks for your feedback

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/rmcgwn

I was okay with 'unos cuantos' being a few friends but now it also says 'unos pocos' is a few friends as well.I thought we would use tengo pocos amigos to suggest I have few friends not being a positive statement. And I thought tengo unos cuantos amigos was a positive way of saying I have a few friends. Now they both mean the same. So are weto learn using unos together with cuantos and pocos is a way of being negative.

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/telemetry
telemetry
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pocos = few

unos pocos = a few

The un/unos is important, just like the a is in English - it changes the meaning

5 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/antonmo
antonmo
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so is “unos cuantos” equal to “unos pocos” ?

3 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Terrance838348

I used "Tengo unos amigos" which was accepted. So having some friends can mean having a few??

2 months ago
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