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A British professor says that there are different connotations between some, a few, and several?

1. There were some people smoking in the waiting room. [neutral]

2. There were a few people smoking in the waiting room. [fewer than one had anticipated; not very many]

3. There were several people smoking in the waiting room. [more than one had anticiped because there shouldn't be anyone smoking in the the waiting room.]

Are there any such distinctions in American English?

Thank you very much for your reply.
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Hi,

Generally speaking, I'd say 'Yes, it's the same.'

Best wishes, Clive
I will second that, Clive! Emotion: smile
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[more than one had anticipated because there shouldn't be anyone smoking in the the waiting room.]

It appears to me that the above sentence has two facts that contradict with each other--"more than one had anticipated" and "there shouldn't be anyone" . Shall we say the above sentence as "more than one had anticipated because there shouldn't be that many people smoking in the waiting room"?
HI Krish,

[more than one had anticipated because there shouldn't be anyone smoking in the the waiting room.] This sentence is based on the 'fact' that there should be no-one smoking there.

It appears to me that the above sentence has two facts that contradict with each other--"more than one had anticipated" and "there shouldn't be anyone" . I don't think there is a real contradiction here. Rather, the juxtaposition of the two facts gives the sentence a slightly ironical, even whimsical, tone. Whether that's the writer's intention is, of course, another matter.

Shall we say the above sentence as "more than one had anticipated because there shouldn't be that many people smoking in the waiting room"? This sentence suggests that it would be OK if some people smoked there, but not that many. So, it has a different meaning.

Best wishes, Clive
Thanks for your explanation, Clive. Sorry, I guess I am still missing your point somewhere. Originally, I interpreted "more than one had anticipated" as "there were more smokers than one had anticipated.". Since there is an anticipation of certain number of minimum smokers, I thought, one cannot say it is a non-smoking area. I hope your further explanation will help me to understand what I am failing to catch.
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Hi,

There were several people smoking in the waiting room. [more than one had anticiped because there shouldn't be anyone smoking in the the waiting room.]

Why do you say Since there is an anticipation of certain number of minimum smokers ... ?

I think no smokers was the anticipation. Several is more than zero.

Clive
Hello Clive,

"[More than one had anticipated.....]" made me to think that there was a minimum anticipation.

My mind thinks and correlates the context ,might be in a wrong way, as given below.

I expected fifty people for the party, but 75 people attended the party. So, the number of people was more than I anticipated.
Hi,

There were several people smoking in the waiting room. [more than one had anticiped because there shouldn't be anyone smoking in the the waiting room.]

The last part in italics states that the anticipation is zero smokers. 'More than one anticipated' does suggest an anticipation that someone will be smoking. So, here is a seeming contradiction.

That's what I meant, earlier, by saying the use of the phrase 'more than one anticipated', when the anticipation is zero, seems mildly ironical or whimsical.

Best wishes, Clive
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