Suppose we have quantity that is surely at least one, but likely or possibly many, what would be the best way to say that?

Note that words that simply say many, several, few, isn't what I really search for, I want the emphasis more on one, but still maybe many.

As an example, a sentence from a mystic filled love story, I'm currently trying to write, for some strange reason it come to me in English, like I that or not.

"... but after [one-or-more] lives spent in North European peasant setting I would likely decide myself unworthy to touch such otherworldly object of incalculable value, even if I guessed she is waiting to be dressed, what couldn't have happened given the level of independence I enjoyed in my upbringing on the countryside."

I could just use "several," but that emphasise more-than-one, while I would like reader to still conclude that the current life is enough, despite the narrator may think otherwise.

The narrator, the boy also refer to, besides the current live in with he is just six years old at this point, actually exactly to one of his previous lives (as a girl btw.), but his memories of before are mixed up and fragmented, and he is not sure was there more of this kind he don't recall or discern, as many older memories are much more eventful and vivid.

As to narrator voice, there no restrictions, even arcane technical term can be considered if it express the meaning precisely, but easily understandable, vague expression would be preferable. Forty years old man inserts this as a memory flash while telling his high school love story.

I have rather skimpy knowledge of English, so forgive me errors there surely is, and don't be shy to point them out.

  • In formal logic, some means exactly this: at least one, with no upper limit. But unfortunately it would not be understood that way in your context.
    – 1006a
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 17:41
  • some with a count noun refers to at least 2... I'm going out with some friends involves at least two friends, not including the speaker. Commented May 30, 2017 at 23:24
  • @Clare: exactly like the word used as formal logic term for one-or-more in my native language.
    – eneagon
    Commented May 31, 2017 at 4:39
  • @Clare Yes, that's true in casual conversation, which is why I said it wouldn't be understood in the OP's context. But in formal/mathematical logic, it always means at least one. It's a hard thing for new logic students to wrap their heads around, because it's so counter-intuitive to the non-technical understanding of the word.
    – 1006a
    Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 15:03
  • @1006a Now that I think about it, some has usages different to this one (more than one) when it can mean one: there is some man on the phone and also that is some dude. Commented Jun 1, 2017 at 15:11

2 Answers 2


Assuming you don't like "one or more", I think I would go with:

...but after at least one life spent in North European peasant setting...

Another option would be to say one and then add a qualifier that it could (or even would) be more than that:

...but after one -- but likely more -- lives spent in North European peasant setting...

You could also use probably, almost certainly, or possibly instead of likely.

  • "At least one" is logical and probably correct answer for the general question, but I don't really like it in my exact context. Well, it is almost too precise and too open; I wanted more ambiguity, and still plural.
    – eneagon
    Commented May 30, 2017 at 17:53

You may want to consider changing your point of view in how to choose your words. For example, there are verbs that imply indeterminate extent, duration, or quantity, while emphasizing the activity itself. From these words, the reader can infer that the activity occurred at least once, and maybe more often, over longer time or with greater range or extent.

For example, experience:

"... but after experiencing life spent in the North European peasant setting, I would likely decide myself unworthy...

With this usage, the phrase experiencing life is mute on whether the experience spanned only one life. (It would have to be taken from the context that this individual can claim to experience more than one life.)

Probably most verbs will provide the same sense that some activity occurred at least once.

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