English Lesson: Little Vs A Little, Few Vs. A Few

MichaelADUncategorized 8 Comments

I have a few friends who are also English teachers, but few of them live in New York. A few of them live in Asia, one lives in the Middle East, and the others live in Europe. One of my friends also helps students prepare for the GMAT and GRE exams. I know a little about those two exams, but I have very little experience teaching such classes.

Today we will look at a few, few, a little, and little. Take a look at the paragraph above once more and see if you can understand the difference between how we use those words, then look at the rest of this lesson.

 These words are used to show how we feel about the amount of what we are talking about. A few and a little have positive nuance. They show that there is a small amount, but we are satisfied with that amount. We use a few with countable nouns, and a little with non-countable nouns. Here are some examples:

  • I have a few friends who are also English teachers. (A small number of my friends are English teachers)
  • There are a few peaches in the fridge, why don’t you try one. (There is a small number of peaches, but enough for us)
  • I need to take a few skiing lessons before I hit the slopes. (I would be satisfied just taking a small number of lessons)
  • There is a little milk left in the fridge. (There is a small amount of milk, and that’s enough)
  • That glue is very strong, so you only need to use a little. (A small amount of this glue is enough)
  • I have a little free time, so I’m going shopping. (Since I have a small amount of time, I can go shopping)

Few and little have a negative nuance. There is a small amount, and we are not satisfied with that. We use few with countable nouns, and little with non-countable nouns.Here are some examples:

  • Few people can have the chance to meet a celebrity. (Unfortunately, not many people can do that)
  • I think few dogs really like cats. (It’s too bad that just a small number of dogs like cats)
  • It is a great sightseeing spot, but very few tourists know about the rooftop garden at the MET. (Unfortunately, not many tourists know about such a great place)
  • There is little time to prepare for the exam. (I wish there was more time)
  • There is little milk left in the fridge. (I will need to go shopping soon)
  • There is little interest in grammar classes these days. (It’s too bad not many students are interested in grammar)

Well, I have little time left to complete these lessons. But I do hope that this was a little helpful. These days few students leave comments, but even a few comments would make me happy! Thanks for reading!



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