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A little or a few, little or few


A little, a few, very little, very few

The expressions a little and a few mean some or enough.

The expressions (very) little and (very) few mean hardly any or not enough.

A little, a few, (very) little and (very) few are quantifiers

Study the following examples:

Examples Meaning
I've got a little money. I'm going to the cinema.
some/enough
I've got a few friends. We meet everyday.
I've got (very) little money. I need to borrow some. hardly any / not enough
I've got (very) few friends. I need to make new friends.

The rules:

Affirmative sentences:

A little, a few, (very) little and (very) few are generally used in affirmative statements, not negatives or questions.

Countable and uncountable nouns:

  1. A little and (very) little are used with uncountable nouns (money, bread, water...)
  2. A few and (very) few are used with countable nouns (friends, tables, teachers..)

(See more about countable and uncountable nouns here.)

Meaning:

    1. A little and a few mean: some or enough.

      Example:

      "I have got a little money" = I have got some money. It's enough for me to do what I want.
      "I have got a few friends" = I have got some or enough friends. We meet every day.

    2. (Very) little and (very) few mean; hardly any or not enough.

      Examples:

      I have got (very) little money = I have got hardly any. I haven't got enough. I'll borrow some from my friend.
      I have got (very) few friends = I have got hardly any. I haven't got enough. I need to make new friends.

Exercise on a little, a few, little and few!
See also much, many and a lot.
See also countable and uncountable nouns
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