Unit 6.1

A few vs A little and Few vs Little

Introduction

A few/a little and few/little are quantifiers which mean some/enough or not enough.

Form

The use of these quantifiers depends on the noun:

Positive Attitude Negative Attitude
Plural Countable a few few
Singular Uncountable a little little

Example

  • I stayed a few days in Madrid. 
  • We have a few beautiful monuments to see.
  • Few people have access to that key. 
  • Few beaches are suitable for swimming.
  • I am feeling a little better today. 
  • Add a little salt to the water.
  • I have little patience with people. 
  • There is little time to finish your homework. 

Use

A few and a little mean some, enough. They show that something is more than expected or 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.

Summary

A few or few and a little or little all mean some.

  • With plural countable nouns: a few (positive) and few (negative).
  • With singular uncountable nouns: a little (positive) and little (negative).

For example:
— “I have a few pencils in my bag, I do not need to buy new ones.” / “I have few pencils in my bag, I have to buy new ones.”
— “There is a little milk in the fridge, we can make a cake.” / “There is little milk in the fridge, we can’t make a cake.”

When they’re preceded by a, the meaning is positive and is suggesting that something still remains; without the article, it suggests that there is not a lot of something.

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

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