English grammar – Few & little

Form

(a) few + plural countable noun
(a) little + uncountable noun

Meaning

  1. A few and a little is used to mean a small quantity or a small number.
    • I have a few friends. (a small number)
    • I have a little money. (a small amount)
  2. Few and little is used to mean “not enough”, or to give the small quantity/number a negative meaning.
    • I have few friends. (a small number, and I wish I had more)
    • I have little money. (a small amount, and I wish I had more)
  3. Few and little without “a” are quite formal. In spoken English it is more common to say “only a few/little” or “not much/many”.
    • Few people came to the meeting (more formal)
    • Only a few people came to the meeting (less formal)
    • Not many people came to the meeting (less formal)
  4. If we use a few or a little before a pronoun or determiner, we use of.
    • A few of them went to the cinema.
    • He only kept a little of his money with him.

Related grammar points

Articles
Small and little

Keith Taylor
Keith is the co-founder of Eslbase. He has been a teacher and teacher trainer for over 20 years, in Indonesia, Australia, Morocco, Spain, Italy, Poland, France and now in the UK.

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Comments

  1. Which one is correct?
    She has little time, does she?
    She has little time, doesn’t she?

    Reply

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