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My question is based on this post: Using 'several' and 'some'

Anyway, my question is this:
Does it feel natural for native speakers to use several to mean starting from two? Do you expect that it can be two when you hear several?

Sometimes learning English (or any languages, I think) leads us to this kind of situation, and we just want confirmations from native speakers, even over dictionaries' definitions. This is what I want some of this site's users to know who like to close our questions very much.

  • It a bit of a rambling article. Can you please re-post with your question clearly stated Thanks. Just as a guess at what your asking as I am not sure. Several or Some do not define a number. If a number were definite then the number would be given. The only number they definitely will not be is "One" – Brad Aug 17 at 21:29
  • I made a few changes. To me, your question seems related, but not a duplicate of the link, so I rephrased your post a little. Please verify and make changes if necessary. – Em. Aug 17 at 22:58
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In general, I do not expect several to start with two, just as the dictionaries state:

  • several adjective
    being more than two but fewer than many in number or kind:
    several ways of doing it.
    (Dictionary.com)
  • Several is used to refer to a number of people or things that is not large but is greater than two.
    I had lived two doors away from this family for several years.
    Several blue plastic boxes under the window were filled with CDs.
    (Collins)

What specific number you expect or imagine depends on the context. But generally speaking, it will not be two.

For context, here is a little diagram for comparison:

Couple < few < some < several < many

That's how I see it. With couple, I expect two, or about two. In other words, it can be two. But not with several.

Note that the diagram is not meant to be a strict rule. Because these terms are not defined concretely (e.g. 5, 10, 21, etc.), their usages are flexible and there is occasionally some overlap. For example, one could say a "couple" when there are actually 3 or 4 of something. That could also be a "few".

  • Your diagram matches exactly what I feel, but do you feel comfortable to say "several" means three and more but not many? Oh, now I remember that some dictionaries say several means some. Do you agree with this? – karlalou Aug 18 at 4:12
  • そうですね。難しい・・・Yes, three or more. But it depends on the context. Three may be less likely than four. Four may be less likely than five, and so on. I'm reluctant to say "but not many". Because they are relative terms, I feel that sometimes "many" and "several" can describe the same thing. It depends on the context. Notice that the Collins entry allows me to make this claim, whereas I'm contradicting Dictionary.com's entry. Same thing with "several" and "some". I think "some<several", but sometimes, they can describe the same thing. – Em. Aug 18 at 8:26
  • For example, let's say you have four dogs. You could say "I have a some dogs", but I then I could say, "No, you have several dogs." There's probably some rigorous theory on this, but I wouldn't know. :) – Em. Aug 18 at 8:26

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