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Few Vs Little

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Indefinite Adjectives

While used for similar reasons, few and little have specific uses within the English language, often difficult for non-native speakers to understand. Native speakers often know because the sentences will “sound funny” with the incorrect word.

Here are some rules to follow:

FEW

  - Countable, plural nouns, such as persons or things
  - Rule of thumb is that few generally stands for around 3 things, while a couple is 2.

 ex) Only a few of the students were ready for the exam.

LITTLE

  - Non-countable, singular nouns, such as a small amount of something or slight degree
  - Rule of thumb is if you can’t count the noun, use little

 ex) I have little patience left before I’ll get angry.

QUICK TIP!

Often, few and little are used with the article a to indicate a different meaning - and referring to a more specific amount. For example, a few pigs, a little time, a few words, a little kindness

A fewFewA LittleLittle
A few represents a positive quantity. It is used with plural nouns.

It means some, a small amount.

A few + Plural
Countable Nouns
Few represents a negative quantity or shortage. It is used with plural countable nouns.

It means not many, not enough.

Few + Plural
Countable Nouns
A little is used with positive quantity and non-countable nouns.

It means "a small amount" or "some".
Little expresses a diminutive size or a negative quantity.

Little means "almost nothing" or "not much".
Examples:
  • • He has a few good friends so he is happy.
  • • There are a few books on the shelf.
  • • We stayed a few days in Paris and visited the Eiffel Tower.
Examples:
  • • I have got few friends in the city so I am lonely.
  • • They have got few cake on the table.
  • • He has few photos on Instagram.
Examples:
  • • There is a little milk in the refrigerator.
  • • Would you like a little water?
  • • Mary got a little bit of pie.
  • • Can't you discount it a little?
Examples:
  • • I'm sorry, I speak little French.
  • • There was little time to finish my homework.
  • • The kitten is little.
  • • I have drunk little water this morning.

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