Figuring out the correct numbers associated with quantifiable words like several or many can be confusing at first. Thankfully, once you get the hang of it, it makes more sense, and you realize that the correct answer is always relative. But how much is several? And what number is several if we look at it in the most basic terms?
How Many Is Several?
The definition of several in numbers is generally considered to be “a handful.” Of course, if you can physically hold the objects in question, this works fine, but if you’re referring to “several people,” then this no longer works as intended. However, in these cases, you can think of “several” as more than “a few” but less than “many.” Generally, “three or four” is a good amount if you have a group of ten, so multiply the group until you find what works relatively.
Say you have a group of 10 people. As we’ve stated above, we cover three or four of those people if we use the phrase “several people were late.” However, if we have a group of 100 people, saying several generally refers to anywhere above thirty or forty people. It’s entirely dependent on the relative total amount of the group referenced.
10 Examples Of How To Use “Several” In A Sentence
The definitions are the hardest bits; now we get to the fun stuff. We’ll cover ten total examples for you to look through and see what you like the best. This way, you’ll get a hands-on idea of how “several” is used in a sentence and how many things are referred to in each sentence. You’ll be able to attribute a number to each one and see that the number is always slightly different in each case, so pay close attention to that!
- Several of the people aren’t coming anymore.
- I have several friends.
- Several members of the public aren’t happy about the upcoming construction.
- Several of your employees have quit today.
- She has several ideas that might be useful.
- We have several people interested in this position.
- Several men have already shown up.
- There are several apples in that bowl if you want one.
- We need several more people if we’re going to have a full team.
- Can you find me several references to support this?
You’ll see that in each of these cases, a direct number isn’t used. It’s good to use words like “several” when you’re either unsure of the total amount or would rather focus on the main point and not have to worry about the overall number of things mentioned. Just like other words like “many” or “few,” we want people to focus more on what we’re saying rather than worrying too much about the exact number in question.
That’s why “several” can mean a great deal of different numbers. It can be something as simple as three or four friends or something as impressive as 50,000 people in a country or city if the context allows for it. There’s a lot of freedom in using words like these in a sentence.
Synonyms For “Several”
We’ve covered all we can about what “several” means and how to use it; now it’s time to look at alternatives. We use alternatives for two main reasons. We either use them to help our understanding of a word. With alternative knowledge, we learn more about the meaning overall and can better grasp the meaning. The other reason is to swap out a word you’re not too comfortable with to a word you’re more comfortable and familiar with.
This is another relative quantity word that depends on the amount in question. It’s a good one to replace “several” as it often refers to a similar amount of things.
In certain contexts, saying “various” instead of “several” can work quite well. However, it’s not the most personable word, so things like “various people” or “various friends” aren’t always a good idea.
- A handful of
Like we said, “several” can mean “a handful of” in contexts relating to smaller quantities. So, if you have a small quantity, then this makes for a good replacement. Even if you don’t, a phrase like “a handful of people,” still makes sense and people understand roughly how many “people” you’re talking about.
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Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.