What’s the difference between few and a few and little and a little?
For today’s English lesson, let’s have a look at a few, few, a little, and little.
As you know, we use few before plural countable nouns, like few pens or few chairs. We use little before non‐countable nouns, like little water or little time. That’s the grammar rule and form. Well, did you know this? Adding the article “a” before few and little shows how we feel about the amount of what we’re talking about.
A few and a little have a positive nuance. They show that there’s a small amount, but we’re satisfied with that amount. Here are some examples:
- I have a few friends who are English teachers.
- There are a few peaches in the fridge. Why don’t you try one?
- There is a little milk left in the re‐fridge, so it’s enough for a bowl of cereal.
- I have a little free time, so I’m going shopping before work.
On the other hand, few and little (without a) have a negative nuance. There’s a small amount, but it’s not enough, and we’re not satisfied with that. Here are some examples:
- Few people can have the chance to meet a celebrity. That’s too bad.
- I think few dogs really like cats.
- There’s little time to prepare for the exam. I wish there was more.
- There’s little milk left in the fridge, so it’s not enough for a bowl of cereal.
Keep in mind the best way to remember this or any vocabulary in English is to take the word or phrase write it in a sentence that’s true for you or true in your world and then memorize your sentences.
You can even take your sentences and write them in the comments below. I would love to see your examples. And if you really want help with vocabulary, sign up for my free vocabulary workshop (see below).
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