Is it right to say

"Many are to rest, but few are to relax"

to express the meaning:

"There are lots of people who rest but only a few who relax"?

(To clarify, I meant the state of being with the verb, not the state of doing.)

The actual sentence I wrote that led to this question is:

"Many are to sense, but few are to feel."

Does that mean that many people sense 'it', but few actually feel 'it'? Or, more precisely, many people will always sense things, but few will always feel things.

I've heard the expression "Many are called, but few are chosen," which has a similar structure to the same expression in Arabic (and maybe some other languages, too).

  • What do you think might be wrong with it?
    – KillingTime
    Feb 27, 2023 at 18:26
  • It sounds quite right to me, but I'm not a native, so wanted to ask the experts.
    – OldEgyptian
    Feb 27, 2023 at 18:29
  • Rest is too similar to relax for this to really work. Maybe you want something like "Many stop work, but few relax."
    – Stuart F
    Feb 27, 2023 at 21:56

2 Answers 2


You want:

Many rest, but few relax.

Many sense, but few feel.

You are on the right track with Many are called, but few are chosen.

But what’s confusing you is that the above example happens to be in the passive voice. If you try out an active voice version, it might be easier to see the construction:

God calls many, but God chooses few.

  • Thank you so much! This really helps. Guess I need to practice active and passive more. Hope you can suggest some books or other resources written in the bible kind of language.
    – OldEgyptian
    Feb 28, 2023 at 8:36

It's grammatical, but it's odd, and doesn't mean quite what you intend.

The construction has a feel of "should" or "supposed to".

So many are to rest means "many are supposed to rest", not "many do rest".

It doesn't make a lot of sense to use this with an indefinite subject like "many".

  • It's also ambiguous about who the many and the few are. Are there two groups of different sizes with different schedules? Or are the few a part of the many that don't get to rest after all? Feb 27, 2023 at 18:49
  • Thanks for all the info! Would you suggest an edit that can lead to 'able to' meaning?
    – OldEgyptian
    Feb 27, 2023 at 19:54
  • @JohnLawler exactly, few are a part of the many that are able to relax not just rest
    – OldEgyptian
    Feb 27, 2023 at 20:00
  • 1
    "Many are able to rest, few are able to relax."
    – Steve
    Feb 27, 2023 at 20:01
  • Thanks @Steve this makes loads of sense.
    – OldEgyptian
    Feb 27, 2023 at 20:33

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