Unit 6.1

# Few vs A few, Little vs A little

Determiners

Few/little and a few/a little are quantifiers which mean “some/enough” and “not enough”.

Use of quantifiers depends on the noun:

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

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.

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

Few/a few and little/a little all mean “some”. We use “few” and “a few” with countable nouns and “little” and “a little” with uncountable nouns.

When they’re preceded by the indefinite article “a“,  the meaning of these quantifiers is positive (“a few” / “a little”) and is suggesting that something still remains. “few” and “little” without the article suggest that there is not a lot of something.

For example:
— “I have few pencils in my bag, I have to buy new ones.” / “I have a few pencils in my bag, I do not need to buy new ones.” = For countable Nouns.
— “There is little milk in the fridge, we need to go to the supermarket.” / “There is a little milk in the fridge, we can make a cake.” = For uncountable nouns.

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