Last week we reviewed adverbs of quantity, such as “many”, “much” and “a lot”. We also had a quick look at “a little”. However, many students often confuse “a little” with “little” and “a few” with “few”. They seem to mean the same thing, but they do not. Let’s see the definition of each one…
A little – a small amount or quantity. Not much but some.
Little – in a very small amount or degree. Not very often.
A few – not many but some.
Few – not many.
As you can see, we use “few” and “a few” for countable nouns and “little” and “a little” for uncountable. When we add “a” we increase the quantity. So, we can have “few problems” which means almost no problems; or we can have “a few problems”, which means we have several problems.
Read the following sentences to understand these adverbs better. Make sure you see the difference between each pair of examples:
“I have a little money, maybe we can go for one drink”
“I have little money, we will have to wait until next week to go out”
“Maria sleeps little and almost never eats, I do not know how she survives!”
“Maria sleeps a little every afternoon, she loves having a nap!”
“Unfortunately, Sheela understands very little in physics class”
“Sheela is doing ok in class, she understands a little, although not everything”
“Few people came to the meeting”
“A few people will be coming to the meeting, we must get enough chairs”
“There are very few apples left, we have to buy more”
“There are a few apples left, we could make an apple pie!”
“I believe few of the stories in the news are true”
“I believe a few of the stories in the news are true, but not all of them”
Do you have any questions? Ask us in the comments’ section below!
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