Yet few colleges and universities have taken sufficient account...

Does the sentence above imply a negative/opposite meaning? e.g:

Few colleges and universities haven't taken sufficient account...

  • 1
    Yes, but only because few is a negative trigger, as you can see if you use a few instead. That changes the meaning drastically, since a few is affirmative. Jun 26, 2012 at 4:39
  • Can't believe I asked this lol Jun 26, 2012 at 4:45
  • Nice pdf anyway =) Jun 26, 2012 at 4:48
  • @JohnLawler: I think you've misread the question (as I did at first). You're right that the negative polarity of "few" changes the discourse meaning of "yet", but it does not change the truth-value of the sentence in the way that Mouse Hello's second example suggests.
    – Colin Fine
    Jun 26, 2012 at 8:35
  • @ColinFine: Perhaps. And perhaps you've misread my comment. It's obvious the poster didn't notice that few itself is a negative, and it's obvious that's where the ungrammatical second example comes from. The negativity of few was the only point I wanted to make in my comment (and why I didn't comment as an Answer.) Jun 26, 2012 at 14:25

3 Answers 3


It implies a negative meaning from the sentence preceding it — it does not negate the "to take" verb in this sentence. The meaning is actually this:

However, few colleges and universities have taken sufficient account...


There is one formal expression, "be yet to." Ex.

Few colleges are yet to take sufficient account.

In this case, yes, although the structure is positive the meaning will be negative.

But in your particular example above, yet is used as a conjunction. It means something like "surprisingly however." Ex.

The minister of education emphasized the gravity of the issue. Yet few colleges and universities have taken sufficient account.

So, and to answer your question, the "few colleges" did "take sufficient account."

  • I think your first example would actually be positive, implying Most colleges have now taken account... Did you mean A few? Jun 26, 2012 at 11:51
  • Hi Tim. It depends on what we mean by "positive/ negative." When I teach, "negative" sentences are those that are negated or have the word "not." This is why I mentioned that, structurally, "be yet to" is positive. But semantically, it's equivalent to "haven't p.p. yet"
    – Cool Elf
    Jun 26, 2012 at 12:18
  • All I meant was that your sentence appears to contain a double negative; sorry if I have confused the issue. Jun 26, 2012 at 17:02
  • Got it, Tim. Actually, I also realized the ambiguity that "few" and "a few" presented in my example. So your comment was perfectly valid :-)
    – Cool Elf
    Jun 26, 2012 at 17:06

Yes it reflect the negative sense but not negating its verb in fact it is the another way to say

Many of colleges and universities have not taken sufficient account...

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