Few vs A few, Little vs A little

Determiners

Few/A few and Little/A little are quantifiers which mean “some”. When they’re preceded by the indefinite article they slightly change their meaning.

POSITIVE ATTITUDE NEGATIVE ATTITUDE
COUNTABLE NOUNS a few few
UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS a little little
  • We have a few beautiful beaches for swimming.
  • Few beaches are suitable for swimming.
  • We can bake a cake! We have a little flour.
  • We can’t bake a cake! We have (very) little flour.

We use A few/Few with Countable Nouns and A little/Little with Uncountable Nouns.

A few and A little mean “some”, “enough”. They show that something still remains.

Few and Little mean “not enough”, “less or fewer than expected”. They show that there is not a lot of something, there is a lack of something.

Few/A few and Little/A little all mean “some”. When they’re preceded by the indefinite article, their meaning is slightly different.

Few” and “Little” without the article suggest that there is not a lot of something. When we have the article “a“, the meaning of these quantifiers is positive (e.g. “a few” and “a little” = positive), these two quantifiers suggest that something still remains.

We use “Few” and “A few” with Countable Nouns and “Little” and “A little” with Uncountable Nouns.

For example:
— “I have a few pencils in my bag.” = Countable and it means there are enough pencils in the bag.
— “I have few pencils in my bag.” = Countable and it means there are not enough pencils in the bag.
— “There is a little milk in the fridge.” = Uncountable and it means there is enough milk in the fridge.
— “There is little milk in the fridge.” = Uncountable and it means there is not enough milk in the fridge.

Let’s revise this content within the [Form] section. Take a look at the [Example] section that shows its use within a context.