a few too many

“a few too many”

I have a few too many drinks.

How much or how many is “a few too many”?
Can both countable and uncountable be followed after?

It means that you had a few drinks that you shouldn’t have had.
For example, an officer pulls you over and gives you a field sobriety test and you fail it because you too drunk to count backwards from 10 to 1. Clearly you’ve had a few drinks too many. If you hadn’t had those few drinks you would’ve passed the test and be free to drive on, and now you’re going to jail for drinking and driving and your vehicle will be towed to the impound lot.

Or it can be so many drinks that you commit a faux pas at the party, like telling your boss to go to hell or vomiting on the carpet.

It all depends on the size of the person and his alcohol tolerance. For very small woman who never drinks, three is probably a few too many. For a big guy who has a few drinks every weekend, 12 might be a few too many. It also depends on how fast the person drinks.

You can’t use an uncountable noun after “many”.

"Have a few too many (drinks) should have the same meaning as:

  1. drink to excess
  2. drink too much
  3. have one over the eight
  4. have too much to drink

I’d think the expression is idiomatic and thereby shouldn’t be taken literally.


So any nouns can be put after "a few too many "?
And if the noun is uncountable, you have to say “-s” or no “s”?

Ex. I’ve put a few too many sugars in my coffee. = “I’ve put much sugar…”
Or should I say just “…a few too many sugar” without “-s”?

Nope, a few too many sugar sounds distinctly odd, because sugar is uncountable.
Try: “a little too much sugar”.

There’s an interesting detail to this: I believe you can say both

  1. He took a few drinks too many.
  2. He took a few too many drinks.

Maybe Jamie will chime in and confirm or refute my surmise.

PS: I’m going to go out on a limb and say that “to drink too much” and “have too much to drink” have very different connotations, but it’s been proposed here that they mean the same thing. “To drink too much” in my humble opinion points to a habit, but “have too much to drink” suggest a state.
That’s why when you’re pulled over in the States for driving erratically, with alcohol on your breath, the first thing the stopping officer will ask you is “sir, how much have you had to drink?”, but never “sir, you drink too much”

Oh, yeah. Jamie already mentioned I cannot use countable nouns!
Sorry I had missed it. OK now I understand about what I asked.

But the word order is too difficult to me to understand.
As I’ve never heard “a few drinks too many” but “a few too many drinks”.

But I have to accept it as you say so. LOL

Wait for Jamie to have the last say on this (or another native speaker), I am not a native speaker so I may be in the wrong. I’m just laying it out as I see it.


Even though the noun ‘‘sugar’’ seems to be uncountable, you could say ‘‘I’ve put a few too many sugars in my coffee.’’
That is because ‘‘sugars’’ means here the amount of sugar that a teaspoon can hold/cubes of sugar.
As far as I know, native speakers would always ask ‘‘How many sugars do you take with your coffee?’’ and not ‘‘How much sugar…’’.

You definitely cannot say ‘‘a few too many sugar’’, though.

Hi thanks. May I ask if you are a native English speaker?

Hi Pooh,

Of course you can ask.
To answer your question – no, I am not a native speaker of English. Sorry if I have not made that very clear.

Do you think I should have minded my own business?


I am really glad you tried to help me.
But since I am an English learner, I cannot judge who’s opinion is right or wrong. Only the criterion is that if the person is native English speaker or not.
I know it sounds silly as there are lots of people whoes English is as good as
natives, but I cannot judge that on the internet.
So I just asked. Sorry if it made you feel bad.

" have a few (too many) to consume several (or too many) alcoholic drinks
not or quite a few Informal several" thefreedictionary.com/few


I absolutely understand the fact that you wanted to know whether I am a native English speaker or not.
Being an English learner myself, I feel more comfortable knowing the source of the responses that I get to my questions, too.

Here is a link to the Oxford online dictionary that I believe backs up my ‘‘theory’’ (the one in post #9):

oxfordadvancedlearnersdictio … nary/sugar


You’re correct. Tort. :slight_smile:

I agree with your explanation, Cristina. However, I would ask ‘How much sugar…’ just as much as I would ask ‘How many sugars…’

Absolutely. Though you can say ‘too much sugar’.

Thank you! I’ve read the links and feel much comfortable now.
Thank you again!! :slight_smile: