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I've used the phrase "as few as one individual from the business has contact with the customer" in a paper and the more I look at it, the more wrong it looks! But "as little as one individual" doesn't seem any better. I can count 'individuals' i.e. people, so should it be 'as few as'? If anyone can rephrase this without using either less or fewer that would also solve the problem!

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  • Only one individual.
    – Skooba
    May 14, 2020 at 12:14
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    It's not only "grammatical" - to as little as one has almost always been significantly more common than to as few as one. But in your exact context I'd go for something like Sometimes only one individual from the business [blah blah]. May 14, 2020 at 12:22
  • @FumbleFingers That doesn't take into account differences in countable/uncountable usages, where few is used for countable and little for uncountable. Also idiomatic usages like "as little as one spoonful" (measuring quantity, so uncountable even though spoonsful are countable).
    – Andrew Leach
    May 14, 2020 at 12:26
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    @AndrewLeach: True, but the first part of my comment was just to give the lie to OP's "the more I look at it, the more wrong it looks" as regards just those 5 words. They're not actually "wrong" - they just don't suit OP's exact context. And although there are several written instances of as little as one spoonful in Google Books, there are none at all for as few as one spoonful, so maybe "countable / uncountable" is irrelevant here. May 14, 2020 at 12:43
  • @Andrew Leach 'few is used for countable and little for uncountable [situations]' Not always, at least the first part. The idiomaticity of each individual expression needs looking at. May 14, 2020 at 14:03

2 Answers 2

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How would the parallel word appear?

As much as 10 and as little as one. (Both "much" and "little" seem wrong here.)

As many as 10 and as few as one. (This sounds fine to me.)

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There are several possibilities.

  • merely one individual…
  • no more than one individual
  • a sole individual
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  • None of these mean the same thing as 'as little/few as one individual' which has the meaning, 1 person is the least amount, but there can potentially be more. May 16, 2020 at 11:41

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