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https://www.duolingo.com/W-Cephei

Common mistake: "Unos cuantos" means "Many"... It does not mean "a few".

I have seen some people commenting this mistake, also many translators in internet and Duolingo have it...

If someone can correct this in Duolingo it would be positive.

EDIT: Okay after reading many people, I think just in Argentina (my country) means "Many", in other Hispanic countries it means "a few"... If more Spanish speakers can confirm this it would be helpful.

3 years ago

24 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Rob2042

It isn`t just duolingo that says it means "a few". Other courses say it, too.

Edit: looking into it, it seems that it can also mean "quite a few" so that could be interpreted as "many".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alexlunac
alexlunac
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Unos cuantos means some or it indicates a little amount. Yo tengo unos cuantos panes = I have some breads Tengo unos cuantos dolares = I have a few dollars Anyway "Unos cuantos" means a little amount as I said, I'm not an expert. take care

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheGuyThatsMeh

This is correct. I have lived in many Latin American countries ranging from Mexico to Cuba to Chile. In every single one of these countries "Unos Cuantos= "A few, some" it makes no sense to me that it would mean "many" as the word "Unos" is obviously meant to represent a small amount.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Karpathian
Karpathian
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I read Unos cuantos as "a quantity" or "a number" which translates as some unspecified amount (some) whether large or small depending on the context.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/W-Cephei

I am a Native Spanish speaker from Argentina... I'm not sure if in other Hispanic countries "Unos cuantos" means something different but here, it means "many".

"Muchas personas cruzaron la cordillera, unas cuantas murieron".

"Muchos chinos comen arroz, unos cuantos le agregan leche".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth261736

In my Spanish dictionary from Spain, it says: unos cuantos = algunos, pocos. Thanks for pointing this out. It's good to know words/expressions that can mean something different in different places.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/W-Cephei

I am almost sure that in Spain it means "many" too.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SimoneBa
SimoneBa
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I think the context is crucial. I've taken it to mean "quite a few", "a fair few", or just "a few" or even "a handful" depending on the context.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth261736

That makes sense to me.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth261736

In that case, why would it say "pocos" as the definition for "unos cuantos"? I'm not trying to be difficult, but am curious because doesn't pocos= many/muchos seem to be a contradiction?

http://lema.rae.es/drae/?val=unos+cuantos

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheGuyThatsMeh

Your dictionary is correct, unos cuantos means few. Even in Spain. Don't know what OP is on about.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Elizabeth261736

Tengo cuantos unos amigos quien hablan español. Puedo preguntarlos (not sure if that is proper grammar). Uno amigo es de Argentina pero él vive en España.

I've also thought about how few/some can be quite vague in English. It's all relative. Few could be 3 or millions. If someone is drunk, we might say, "He's had a few" meaning that he has had too many drinks. A few shirts (3 or 4) wouldn't be very many, but owning the same number of cars or houses would be a lot. You could say few people speak Dutch but it's 23 million people but that is relatively small compared to the number of people who speak Chinese. Anyway, I hope I haven't bored anyone. I just think the mutability of words is interesting.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/W-Cephei

Well maybe in Spain has a different meaning.

If another Hispanic duolinger can clarify this would be good.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/beadspitter

"Muchas personas cruzaron la cordillera, unas cuantas murieron".

"Muchos chinos comen arroz, unos cuantos le agregan leche".

This is interesting, because it seems to mean 'several' or 'many', but not as many as 'muchos'. It makes me wonder if there isn't a very good translation into English. '

Several' still implies a number you could easily count. So, "Many people crossed the mountain, several of them died," would have the sense of, "A large number [too large to count easily] of people crossed the mountains. Five or six of them died." Clearly, that's not the tone of the sentence.

I think I might write that sentence, "Many people crossed the mountain. Of those, many died." But that doesn't work as a stand-alone translation. I think probably Rob2042's edit to include "quite a few" may be the closest English version.

(I'm not sure about your second example, though. 'A few' might work there; I don't think it's very common for Chinese people actually to add milk to their rice - dairy isn't prominent in most Chinese cuisine that I'm aware of.)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/W-Cephei

I agree.

Yes, the second example was bad.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/alexlunac
alexlunac
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You said: "Muchas personas cruzaron la cordillera, unas cuantas murieron".

"Muchos chinos comen arroz, unos cuantos le agregan leche". each member of my family has read your two sentences and 100% of them concluded that: few people died in the mountains and few Chinese added milk, of course we are native Spanish speakers, "Unos cuantos" is a good resource for your vocabulary.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/beadspitter

I wondered about this, because 'a few' didn't work with the lyric--

Solo le pido a Dios

Que el engaño no me sea indiferente.

Si un traidor puede más que unos cuantos,

que esos cuantos no lo olviden facilmente.

("Sólo le pido a Dios", León Gieco - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7CQDLjrtnA)

...yes, I get my Spanish out of folksongs. .

But I see people commenting saying that to them it does mean a few. Could this be a regional thing?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rob2042

Why do you say "a few" does not work with the lyric? It is saying "...more than a few...".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/beadspitter

I'm not sure how to explain how I perceive this, if it isn't intuitive to you. The implication (as I understand it) is, "A single traitor shouldn't be able to accomplish more than [ ], but if he can, let them at least not forget him easily (or forget that it happened, or forget what he did and how much of a betrayal it was)."

This is a political song - or a very personal song about politics - very much about the suffering of the people, and praying not to let oneself become detached from it. One of the best known verses is, "Sólo le pido a Dios, que la guerra no me sea indiferente. Es un monstruo grande y pisa fuerte toda la pobre inocencia de la gente."

So, with the verse I quoted, to me it makes sense if what's in brackets is something roughly parallel to 'the people' or 'the masses'. It doesn't make sense if it's 'a few people'. For one thing, why should it be so difficult for one person to do more than a few other people? For another, how does it fit into the spirit of the song if it's all about a few people, instead of the people? It makes sense if it's "One person shouldn't be able to undo the work - or go against the intentions - of [the] many (and betray their country), but if he does/if it happens like that, let them/us at least not forget about it easily."

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rob2042

Translating the lines, I get...

"I only ask God

that the deception not be indifferent to me.

If a traitor can be more than a few,

that those few not forget easily."

I`m thinking it is the traitors that must not forget easily be they more than a few.

Just my take on it. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/W-Cephei

I understand the same as Beadspitter.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/beadspitter

That is a very exact and literal translation. I was trying to explain what I thought the actual point of the song was. But I'm not León Gieco or Mercedes Sosa, so I can't know for sure!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Rob2042

Neither can I. So, what we have is a phrase, "unos cuantos" that can either mean a few or many. Not sure even context could sort that out.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/malkin50

I thought it meant "some" but now I'm going to pay attention when I hear it.

3 years ago