"Few" without a noun is only used in formal context to make general statements, e.g. "Few would be in favour of the new food regulation". It is incorrect to use it here "I see few" > should be "I see a few" or "I see (a) few (noun)" (with the noun being a countable, e.g. flowers)
"Quantity" is not the actual difference between "few" and "a few" ; the meaning itself is not quite the same. I found a good page that explains it better than I could : http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/little-a-little-few-a-few
As I understand it, "a few" is a countable, small quantity of things. It has no connotation of it being too many or too small a number.
"I have a few degrees" - a small number but definitely more than enough.
"Few", on the other hand, is kind of "less than expected", "not enough", something along those lines. Or just decidedly a small amount/quantity.
"I have few friends" - the number of friends is too small.
In this sense, "kevés" means "few (sg)" or "little (of sg)". Definitely not "a few". "A few" is "néhány".
"I see few" is entirely correct and natural educated speech. vvsey is exactly on point with the example about the flowers.
And now for some reason, "I see few" isn't even an accepted answer!
For a question on the Hungarian: I take it this sentence does not have the meaning that I have some sort of vision impairment? The suggested answer is now "I see little," which is more likely to be a statement about the quality of my eyesight than about how much of whatever it is I happen to be seeing (although I concur it does have that meaning, in the same pattern as "I see few," where "little" would correspond to an uncountable noun).
And, to be sure, "keveset" can be used for both countable and uncountable nouns?
English 'few' and 'a few' mean rather different things. The Hungarian here means 'I see few' = I do not see many. It does NOT mean "I see a few' = I see some.
So I agree with your comment -- if you remove the '(a)'! (Ignore the first comment on this page. There is nothing incorrect about 'I see few'.)
There are times that you need a little bit of context. You could present the sentence as part of a dialogue- have 2 faces with conversation boxes, and that would clarify this kind of thing. The English sentence on its own appears unnatural at first glance. I get the examples people have given in which it would be used, and that helps- thanks for that. I do think that it isn't a thing you'd be likely to say in everyday conversation. It strikes me as very stiff and formal- much more normal to say "I can't see many", or "I can hardly see any". Would " hardly any" or "very few" be too strong a translation for the Hungarian, though?
Thanks for your great comments! I like the idea with the dialogue, but that's something that the developers of duolingo would have to implement. We can only add examples to the existing software; but it's a cool idea.
I'll think about whether I can't see many and I can hardly see any should be accepted, I see your point there too. very few does seem a bit strong, in particular because it would have a very good literal Hungarian counterpart: nagyon keveset.
Thanks, Andrs; I am clueless about software. You know you have the 3 picture boxes that appear for some of the vocab questions?- if you couldn't do anything more complicated, you could use those- a head in the left box, facing one on the right- an arrow in the middle box to show the direction of the conversation. Pictures are useful, because they can save a lot of time, and help you to avoid piles of metalanguage that can distract from the real language you want to be learning. Useful for showing different relationships, e.g. that csokolom would be used to an older person, and as in sziasztok, when you're speaking to more than one person. The modern standard English "you" doesn't indicate singular or plural, but it's an important distinction in many languages. Pictures can show that easily. Useful also to show if a sentence is formal or chummy, etc. You only need a handful of pictures that form a very simple code- perhaps someone in business clothes representing formal, someone old, etc.
These are also great ideas, but again, unfortunately, I have to say that we (doing the Hungarian) course cannot do much about this. We don't even choose the pictures!
The reason for this is that the people writing the duolingo software created a framework that allows small teams of people to write a language course fairly easily — but there is no, or very little room to get creative for a single course. But we shouldn't despair, the underlying software has changed over time, so there's a chance that similar things will be introduced. And I'll keep your comments on in mind if (let's hope when) we can implement something along these lines!
'I see few' is perfectly good English. 'Do you see any birds from your window?' 'I see (very) few'. True, many speakers would answer 'I don't see many,' but that doesn't mean 'I see few' is wrong. It is more elegant/educated, and therefore less used on the whole than the 'not many' alternative.
We now accept all of these. I feel that the closest English translation of the sentence is really I see few. where few indicates few of something. The sentence really indicates the low quantity of something (German ‘Ich sehe wenig(e).‘).
English I see a few is closer to Néhányat látok. ‘I see some.’ or ‘I see a couple.’ (German ‘Ich sehe ein paar/einige.‘). This sounds to me as if the standard that you're comparing to is zero (or very low), and you're stating that you see more than that.
I see a little could also mean that your eyesight allows you to see to some degree, again comparing to a low standard. I see little can mean something similar, but comparing to a higher standard.
In any case, as I said, we accept all now, and I hope this helps a bit.
I was under the impression that keves meant "few" rather than "a few," but I could be wrong.
"I see few" really means "I don't see very many." It has a negative connotation. For example, "Few people go to the beach in the winter" means that not very many people go to the beach in the winter. The focus is on the fact that most people do not go. But if you said, "A few people go to the beach in the winter," the focus is on those people who DO go. Maybe "keves" can work both ways, but I'm not sure.