few that not, few that, and few but

Julianus

Senior Member
Korean
Hello.

1. a. There are few men that don't know the news. b. There are few men but know the news. c. There are few men that know the news.

My book says that both (a) and (b) patterns are possible and correct. if so, how different are (a, b) with (c) pattern? do all (a, b, c) have the same meaning?

And iss (b) pattern used in common life?


Thank you always~.
 
  • Imber Ranae

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    a. and c. are both grammatical but have opposite meanings. b. has the same meaning as c., but it isn't something that is often said these days. "There are few but [verb]" is a rare grammatical structure that I imagine sounds stilted to most people.
     
    Last edited:

    frenchifried

    Senior Member
    English - UK/US
    I would contest the 'that', which I know is not entirely incorrect, but is jarring all the same. a) "There are few men who don't know the news", and c)'There are few men who know the news'.

    This is the book that gives me all the information.
    This is the person who gives me all the information.

    b)should be phrased, "There are but few men who know the news".
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Is (b) pattern grammatically incorrect? or is it just not used today?
    "There are few men but know" (the grammar is fine) means "There are few men who don't know" (few men other than those who know), but "there are but few men who know" means the opposite, that there are few men who do know. Even more confusing is the fact that "There are but few" means the same as "There are not but a few".
     

    frenchifried

    Senior Member
    English - UK/US
    Forero - thank you. You are absolutely right on b) and your explanation on these differences, and I rest my case - apologies to you jullianus. However, I can't back down on the differences between 'who' and 'that'. :cool:
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Forero - thank you. You are absolutely right on b) and your explanation on these differences, and I rest my case - apologies to you jullianus. However, I can't back down on the differences between 'who' and 'that'. :cool:
    Why, frenchified?

    I thought that AmE style guides - unlike BrE usage - pointed in the opposite direction: that you had to use "that" in restrictive relative clauses? Or perhaps it's only when the choice is between "that" and "which" that AmE style guides point in that direction?:confused:
     

    frenchifried

    Senior Member
    English - UK/US
    Loob, you are right about restrictive clauses (we need to discuss 'which/that' eslewhere as it isn't in question here), but generally, on both sides of the Atlantic, it is accepted that a person is followed by 'who' and 'that' is followed by an object (I am on shaky ground here, because 'that' after a person is not entirely incorrect).

    But I missed the meaning on the construction of b)

    There are few men but know = Most men know
    There are but few men who know = not many men know

    So, leaving aside 'that' and 'who', but taking into account Forero's explanation of b) - and re-reading jullianus's post, I think this is the answer to his original question:

    a) and b) have a different construction but mean the same thing = most men know the news

    c) means that not many (few) men know the news.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Loob, you are right about restrictive clauses (we need to discuss 'which/that' eslewhere as it isn't in question here), but generally, on both sides of the Atlantic, it is accepted that a person is followed by 'who' and 'that' is followed by an object (I am on shaky ground here, because 'that' after a person is not entirely incorrect).

    But I missed the meaning on the construction of b)

    There are few men but know = Most men know
    There are but few men who know = not many men know

    So, leaving aside 'that' and 'who', but taking into account Forero's explanation of b) - and re-reading jullianus's post, I think this is the answer to his original question:

    a) and b) have a different construction but mean the same thing = most men know the news

    c) means that not many (few) men know the news.
    I would probably defend "There are a few men that don't know the news", but I agree that that is out of place in "There are few men that don't know the news." I would change this that to who.
     
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