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