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
We have a free online course on this grammar (three lessons). Try it here: Few, a few, little, a little (B1 / intermediate level)