3

I think this is a very subjective question. You have to choose an answer from the options after reading a passage.

Here is the relevant part of the passage:

All sunlike stars are born binaries. Most split up, while the rest become tight binaries.

And here is the question

How many sunlike stars tighten together?

  • A) Some
  • B) Most
  • C) Almost all
  • D) Very small number

I thought the answer would be "D", "very small number". The reason is as most of the stars are split up what is remaining should be very small number. According to the tutor it's B, "some". I am sure B is not really wrong, but which is more accurate here?

  • 2
    "Most" means majority, on the other hand the minority is not necessarily very small number in my opinion. You can have a majority of 5 members of the same kind and a minority of 4 members of the other kind where there are a total number of 9 members. Though you may have a majority of 99 and a minority of 1, too. – Cardinal Jun 29 '17 at 14:45
  • 3
    In fact, since we are talking about stars, the answer cannot be "very small number." Even if we are discussing a minority of a given kind of star, that population, to the contrary, is described by a very large number approaching infinity. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Jun 29 '17 at 14:54
  • 1
    If D had been "A relatively small number", then it may have been as applicable as A, but as @P.E.Dant says, the actual number is still likely to be a large one. Also, the opposite of most is more like some than it is like very little. – SteveES Jun 29 '17 at 15:11
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    This type of test is so stupid because none of the answers really fit the bill exactly. But some Phd student sits there thinking up these questions, when they are really not qualified as pedagogues. I use the Greek word here on purpose. – Lambie Jun 29 '17 at 16:29
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    There are an estimated 100 billion stars in the Milky Way. Ignoring at least that many other galaxies, most (which simply means more than half) could actually be used if 60 billion of them were in binary systems. In which case I'd hardly say the remaining 40 billion non-binary stars represented a "Very small number". Some is obviously the intended answer - but as @Lambie says, such tests shouldn't be taken too seriously. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 29 '17 at 18:01
4

most

is an indeterminate amount , but means "more than half" of a group or set, the number leftover can be hinted at by using various descriptors

In order of decreasing amounts leftover, it can be said

most will have chocolate, the rest will have vanilla
most will have chocolate, some will have vanilla
most will have chocolate, a handful will have vanilla
most will have chocolate, a few will have vanilla
most will have chocolate, a very small number will have vanilla
most will have chocolate, a couple will have vanilla
most will have chocolate, one will have vanilla

In your star example

some

is also indeterminate, but spans a greater range than

a very small number

which is a subset of "some"

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  • 2
    Great answer, though I'm not 100% on board with "a very small number" necessarily falling between "a few" and "a couple." Though they can vary, generally I think a few = 3, and a couple = 2. What makes "a very small number" probably depends how many "most" is. Is most 10? A very small number might be less than one in that case (used only as an average b/c obviously you can't have a fraction of a person). Is most 10 million? Then, a very small number could be accurate for a few, a couple, one, or a thousand. – cjl750 Jun 29 '17 at 20:33

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