Tuesday, 29 November 2011

A LITTLE OR A FEW

We always confuse when to use a little, when to use a few. Below are some tips for it.

The expressions a little and a few mean some.
  • If a noun is in singular, we use a little

    Example:
    a little money






  • If a noun is in plural, we use a few

    Example:
    a few friends





Countable / Uncountable Nouns

In connection with a little / a few people often speak of countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
Countable nouns have a singular and a plural form. In plural, these nouns can be used with a number (that's why they are called 'countable nouns'). Countable nouns take a few.
Example:
4 friends – a few friends
Uncountable nouns can only be used in singular. These nouns cannot be used with a number (that's why they are called 'uncountable nouns'). Uncountable nouns take a little.
Example:
3 money – a little money
Note: Of course you can count money – but then you would name the currency and say that you have got 3 euro (but not „3 money“).

A Little / A few or Little / Few

It's a difference if you use a little / a few or little / few. Without the article, the words have a limiting or negative meaning.
  • a little = some
    little = hardly any

    Example:
    I need a little money. - I need some money.
    I need little money. - I need hardly any money.






  • a few = some
    few = hardly any

    Example:
    A few friends visited me. - Some friends visited me.
    Few friends visited me. - Hardly any friends visited me.





Without the article, little / few sound rather formal. That's why we don't use them very often in everyday English. A negative sentence with much / many is more common here.
Example:
I need little money. = I do not need much money.
Few friends visited me. = Not many friends visited me.

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