Few, a few, little, a little

Few a few, little / a little are quantifiers. Here is how to use them correctly:

Few, a few
A few is more than few.
We use a few and few + a plural countable noun. few people, few books, few letters
a few people, a few books, a few letters
A few is a positive idea. Fortunately, our financial situation is good: we still have a few good customers.
Few is a negative idea. It means 'almost none'. We can also use very few. I'm very sad: I have few good friends.
I'm very sad: I have very few good friends.

(Both these sentences mean ‘I don't have many good friends – I would like to have more’.)
A few and few have irregular comparative and superlative forms. few ⇒ fewer ⇒ the fewest
a few ⇒ more ⇒ the most


Little, a little
A little is more than little.
We use a little and little + an uncountable noun. a little time, a little food, a little money, little time, little food, little money
A little is a positive idea. It means 'not much, but some'. I can help you: I speak a little English.
Little is a negative idea. It means 'nearly none, nearly nothing'. We can also use very little. I can't help you. I speak little English.
I can't help you. I speak very little English.


Both these sentences mean ‘My English isn’t good; I would like to speak English better’.
A little and little have irregular comparative and superlative forms. little ⇒ less ⇒ the least
a little ⇒ more ⇒ the most

See a longer explanation of this grammar and do practice exercises when you register for our free online course (B1 / intermediate level): Few, a few, little, a little:

B1 Course-Image-1340x447


1 Comment

  1. Three mistakes often made by native English speakers - January 13, 2013, 8:59 pm

    […] between countable and uncountable nouns. They can quite easily use how much, how many, a few and a little, for instance. However, when it comes to the amount of, all grammar seems to go out of the […]

Leave a Reply