Can 'quite some' be used in place of 'quite a few' in the following sentence?

When a person is emotionally attached to an institution, he or she tends not to see quite a few things wrong with it.

The intended meaning, using the words I am certain about, is:

When a person is emotionally attached to an institution, he or she tends not to see some things wrong with it.


  • 2
    No pun intended, but the paraphrasing isn't necessarily quite the same as the "original". Idiomatic quite a few normally implies more than you might expect, whereas some can often imply just a few (not many at all, in fact). Oct 14, 2021 at 14:23
  • Expressed in a sequence that might be easier to parse: ...there are quite a few things wrong with it [that] he or she tends not to see. Oct 14, 2021 at 14:26
  • @FumbleFingers I'd quibble that "quite a few" doesn't necessarily mean "more than you might expect". If someone said, "I expect there to be quite a few problems" that wouldn't be a paradox. But yeah, it means "many". If you said "Bob has quite a few widgets and Sally has some widgets too", I'd understand this to mean that Bob has more than Sally.
    – Jay
    Oct 14, 2021 at 14:38
  • @Jay: But wouldn't "Bob has some widgets and Sally has quite a few widgets too" also imply that Bob's "some" is more than Sally's "quite a few"? On the grounds that we'd expect the larger value first in such a pairing Oct 14, 2021 at 14:44
  • @FumbleFingers Hmm. If you said, "Bob has some widgets and Sally has quite a few widgets", I'd take that to mean that Sally has more. Including the word "too" makes the second one sound like a parenthetical idea. So I think my example was badly constructed.
    – Jay
    Oct 14, 2021 at 14:47

1 Answer 1


No, they're not interchangeable. "Quite a few" is an idiom meaning "many". "Quite some" is just not a combination of words that English-speakers use.

In general, "quite" can mean "very". Like you can say, "It is quite dark out" or "Bob is quite talented". "Quite some" doesn't make sense. "Very some"? What does that mean?

You can also say "quite an X" to indicate more of whatever X normally means, or a particularly good or bad example of X. Like if you say, "Bob is a plumber", that tells us nothing about his skill level. He could be a good plumber or a bad plumber. But if you say, "Bob is quite a plumber", that means he is a very good plumber. Similarly, "That was quite an accident" means it was a very bad accident. Etc.

"Quite a few" is, as I said, an idiom meaning "many". Like most idioms, the meaning doesn't follow entirely from analyzing each of the words that make it up. "Few" usually means a small number, so you might think "quite a few" would mean a very small number, but in fact it means the opposite. I suppose if you think of it as meaning, a small number is a few, but quite a few means a large number, it might make literal sense to you.

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