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Hi people!

First of all, let me give you some examples:

Context: After a party, a woman is chatting with a friend about the party she went to the previous day:

"I have met vary many people at the party."

Then, she goes on to tell her friend who is / was it that she met. Her friend knows some of the people she mentions, so he utters:

"Oh, I know very many of them."

At first, I wondered whether this expression, i.e., "very many" was correct. Now I know it is perfectly grammatical and acceptable, and I imagine it acts as an intensifier of the word "many". Is this so? If not, what is its function?

Now, which part of speech is "very" in this case? An adverb? And many? An adjective / a determiner-quantifier?

Another question: Is "a very many" acceptable? I imagine it is not, and IMHO, it sounds awful.

Lastly, why is "of" inserted in the second example? Is it because of "them" following or is it because of the very nature of "very many"? Or simply because when a quantifier is followed by a pronoun we should add "of" as a mere nexus or connective?

Thanks a lot!

Mara.
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Would anyone be so kind to tell me at least if my assumptions are correct?

Thanks a lot!

Mara.
Hi,

Context: After a party, a woman is chatting with a friend about the party she went to the previous day:

"I have met vary many people at the party." More natural is 'I met a lot of people at the party'. 'Very many' does not work here. 'Many' is mainly used in the negative. 'I didn't meet very many people at the party'. Also in questions. "Did you meet very many people at the party?"

Then, she goes on to tell her friend who is / was it that she met. Her friend knows some of the people she mentions, so he utters:

"Oh, I know very many of them." Same comment as above

At first, I wondered whether this expression, i.e., "very many" was correct. Now I know it is perfectly grammatical and acceptable, No, same comment as above and I imagine it acts as an intensifier of the word "many". Is this so? Yes, see above. If not, what is its function?

Now, which part of speech is "very" in this case? An adverb? Yes And many? Yes An adjective / a determiner-quantifier?

Another question: Is "a very many" acceptable? I imagine it is not, and IMHO, it sounds awful. You're right.

Lastly, why is "of" inserted in the second example? Is it because of "them" following No or is it because of the very nature of "very many"? It's hard to explain, but yes, I think so. You can say 'I don't know many soldiers' or 'I don't know many of the soldiers'. Or simply because when a quantifier is followed by a pronoun we should add "of" as a mere nexus or connective?

Clive
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"I have met vary many people at the party." More natural is 'I met a lot of people at the party'.

Clive corrected your verb tense but didn't comment on it. If you are still at the party when you make the comment, you can say "I have met a lot of people at the party." But if you are speaking after the party is over, it would be better to say "I met..."
Thanks for your answers!

Now, I'm a bit puzzled for I've found in one of Melville's short stories the following sentence:

I mean the law-copyists or scriveners. I have known very many of them, professionally and privately, and if I pleased, could relate divers histories, at which good-natured souls might smile, and sentimental souls might weep.

How come? Is this a literary license or are there any other explanations to it?

Thanks a lot!

Mara.
Hi,

I avoided saying it was wrong. I used the word 'mainly':

"I have met vary many people at the party." More natural is 'I met a lot of people at the party'. 'Very many' does not work here. 'Many' is mainly used in the negative.

Now, let's consider this.

I mean the law-copyists or scriveners. I have known very many of them, professionally and privately, and if I pleased, could relate divers histories, at which good-natured souls might smile, and sentimental souls might weep.

How come? Is this a literary license or are there any other explanations to it? He's Herman Melville, I'm not. Yeah, I'd say it's literary licence. He has a better sense of style than me. The whole passage is stylish and rather far from modern and everyday speech. 'Very many' works in this context. But if you want to use it in this way, my advice is to be cautious and not to do it too often.

Best wishes, Clive


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I've pondered about this issue since yesterday. It may be true "very many" is often used in negative contexts. But it is used also in non-negative contexts. OED gives no explanation to it but it contains 169 quotes using this phrase. (EX) I met very many priests who quite accepts the Protestant Alliance version of Jesuitism. (McCabe, J., "Twelve Years in Monastery", 1897). The dictionary contains also 14 quotes using "very many of". (EX) Very many of the native mono-syllables are determinatives. (Marsh, "The English Language", 1862). Though the quotes in OED are rather old, Goolge-wise speaking, "very many" is used a lot in pages of New-York Times and CNN.

paco
RiglosHi people!

First of all, let me give you some examples:

Context: After a party, a woman is chatting with a friend about the party she went to the previous day:

"I have met very many people at the party."

Then, she goes on to tell her friend who is / was it that she met. Her friend knows some of the people she mentions, so he utters:

"Oh, I know very many of them."

At first, I wondered whether this expression, i.e., "very many" was correct. Now I know it is perfectly grammatical and acceptable, and I imagine it acts as an intensifier of the word "many". Is this so? If not, what is its function?

Now, which part of speech is "very" in this case? An adverb? And many? An adjective / a determiner-quantifier?

Another question: Is "a very many" acceptable? I imagine it is not, and IMHO, it sounds awful.

Lastly, why is "of" inserted in the second example? Is it because of "them" following or is it because of the very nature of "very many"? Or simply because when a quantifier is followed by a pronoun we should add "of" as a mere nexus or connective?

Thanks a lot!

Mara.
I have posted a reply on the usage of "very many".
On the matter of "of".......

Compare these sentences,
There are many people living in Africa, and there are very many people living in China.
Think about it! Can you see the difference? This is perfectly good English.
Now try this....Very many of the people living in China don't have ....(whatever!)
Can you see the meaning here? 'Many of' means a large number, but not all of them.
'of' in these sentences means a portion of the whole.

I hope this helps you.

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