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Difference Between A Little & Little, A Few & Few ✅

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What is the difference between “a little,” “little,” “a few,” and “few” ? The quantifiers “a little,” “little,” “a few,” and “few” are often used interchangeably in English.

However, there is a difference based on whether the object specified is countable or uncountable. The use of the indefinite article “a” also changes the meaning of these important words.

 

A Little – Little Difference

1. “A little” (uncountable nouns): This expression means a small amount or a bit of something that cannot be counted individually. It suggests that there is some, but not a lot.

“She added a little sugar to her coffee.” (A small amount of sugar)
“I need a little help with this task.” (Some assistance, not a lot)

2. “Little” (uncountable nouns): When you drop the indefinite article “a,” it usually implies a negative sense, indicating a small quantity that may not be enough or insufficient.

“She has little patience for waiting.” (Almost no patience)
“There is little time left to finish the project.” (Not much time)

 

A Few- Few Difference

3. “A few” (countable nouns): This phrase refers to a small number of countable items. It suggests that there are some, but the quantity is limited.

“I have a few apples in the basket.” (A small number of apples)
“We need a few volunteers for the event.” (A small number of people)

4. “Few” (countable nouns): Similar to “little” without the indefinite article, “few” implies a negative sense, indicating a small number of items that may not be sufficient.

Few students attended the lecture.” (Not many students attended)
“She invited a few friends, but few of them came.” (Not many of the invited friends came)

Using a little, little, a few, few

Summary:

☛A little and little refer to uncountable nouns, and are used with the singular form:

Examples:
There’s little water left in the bottle.
I’ve put a little sugar into your tea.

 

☛A few and few refer to countable nouns, and are used with the plural form:

Examples:
There are a few students in that classroom.
He says few applicants have presented themselves.

 

☛A little and a few convey a positive meaning.

Examples:
I’ve got a little water left, would you like some?
They’ve got a few positions open.

 

☛Little and few convey a negative meaning.

Examples:
He’s got little money left.
I have few friends in Chicago.

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