Little/Few

Introduction

Little and few often cause problems for English learners. We take a closer look at these two little words in English and you can test your knowledge with the exercises at the bottom of the page.

I’ve got little time for chit-chat as I’m running late for the airport.

The radio says there is more than a little traffic on the motorway, so I’ve got to hurry up.

A few of us are going to Spain for a holiday.

We all have less time and fewer holidays than we used to.

That’s why it’s so important that we spend a few days together each year.

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(A) Little or (A) Few

(A) little and (a) few are determiners. Use (a) little with uncountable nouns and (a) few with countable plural nouns.

  • little and few mean not as much/many as desired or expected
Example:
I’ve got little time to chit-chat.
Few people take time to relax.
  • a little and a few mean some
Example:
There is more than a little traffic on the motorway.
We spend a few days together each year.
  • use a little of and a few of before a pronoun or determiner
Example:
A few of us are going to Spain for a holiday.
  • less and fewer are the comparative forms of little and few, see Less/Fewer
Example:
We all have less time and fewer holidays than we used to.

Informal speech

In informal langauge not much/many are more common that little or few.

Example:
I don’t have much time for chit-chat.

Only a little/few or very little/few also appear more frequently than just little and few.

Example:
Only a few friends are coming to Spain.