I feel doubts regarding the usage of few as a substantive. The sentence is:

"Both kinds of literature are the product of the academic few."

Is this correct?

Now I want to place the adjective fluent to qualify the academic few:

"Both kinds of literature are the product of the fluent academic few."

It sounds odd, but that's perhaps because of the f's?

What do you suggest?

  • sure, why not? It sounds OK. A tiny bit stilted. But acceptable to the audience that the context seems to be for
    – Mitch
    Jan 11, 2012 at 16:20
  • 2
    Why don't you make it an answer? :) Perhaps I should use a synonym for "fluent" that sounds better against "few". Jan 11, 2012 at 16:24
  • +1 for Benjamin. Grammatically it's fine but "fluent few" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue.
    – Lynn
    Jan 11, 2012 at 16:59
  • Actually I think the "fluent few" has a nice ring to it.
    – Jay
    Jan 11, 2012 at 17:21
  • 1
    Modifying a quantifier is tricky; most will not accept the bridle or float away. But it's not impossible, if one doesn't expect too much for the effort. I think it would be better to speak of a fluent academic few. There's no reason to expect this sentence to convey a claim that it's the same few fluent writers in academe that're responsible; that's asking too much of an odd expression. Jan 11, 2012 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


Certainly, as in these two citations from the OED:

The favour of the few may silence the clamour of the many.

A life not for the many, but for the few.

But most famously,

Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.

No definite article there, but Battle of Britain pilots have ever since been known as 'The Few'.

  • +1 for the famous citation; it makes an excellent point.
    – Irene
    Jan 11, 2012 at 18:40
  • +1 especially for not being distracted by the flu, I mean, the fluent few. The others focused more on the specific than the general.
    – Kris
    Jan 12, 2012 at 7:25
  • @Kris: - 1 for your inconsistence regarding your interest in the specific and the general :) Jan 12, 2012 at 10:04
  • @Benjamin: My comment at OP was a mere pun, as you could have seen, and so it is here as well. :)
    – Kris
    Jan 12, 2012 at 10:12
  • @Kris: I know :) Jan 12, 2012 at 10:32

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