few: the last/next few days/weeks/months/years/dollars etc.
the last days/weeks/months/dollars
✓ The world has become smaller in the last few years.
✗ The world has become smaller *in the last years*.
Il mondo è diventato più piccolo negli ultimi anni.
When we speak about the last or next unspecified number of days, weeks, months, years etc. (because we don’t remember, know or care how many), we use few to indicate that this number is unspecified. Compare:
✓ Virtual reality is going to take off over the next ten years.
La realtà virtuale decollerà nei prossimi dieci anni.
✓ Virtual reality is going to take off over the next few years.
La realtà virtuale decollerà nei prossimi anni.
Notice how few “substitutes” a specific number. In the equivalent Italian expression (for example nei prossimi anni, negli ultimi mesi) it isn’t expressed.
Some more examples (notice that the two most common prepositions are in and over):
Pop music has gone downhill over the last few years.
✗ Pop music has gone downhill over *the last years*.
La musica pop è degenerata negli ultimi anni.
✓ Everything becomes clear in the last few minutes of the film.
Everything becomes clear in *the last minutes* of the film.
Tutto diventa chiaro negli ultimi minuti del film.
✓ The next few months will be critical.
✗ *The next months* will be critical.
I prossimi mesi saranno critici.
✓ I’m down to my last few dollars.
Non mi restano che alcuni dollari.
Now try the quiz below! There are TWENTY-FIVE answers. The pass mark is 85% (23 out of 25). Click on the blue arrows to go to the next or previous question. You can check your answers immediately or when you've finished the quiz.