Few or a few? Little or a little?
What's the difference you might ask?
Let's start with few and little.
Few is used with countable nouns, things we can easily count.
Little is used with uncountable nouns and abstract ideas, we cannot easily count them.
Few or a few
This is used for countable nouns.
Few says there are hardly any or almost none of something.
I have few opportunities to make new friends.
I have few ideas for my school project.
A few is more positive. It says we have some, maybe 3 or 4.
I have a few opportunities to make new friends. This could be at the gym, at work or playing a sport.
I have a few ideas for my school project. You have some ideas that you can think about further.
Little or a little
This is used for uncountable nouns.
Little says we don't have much or almost none of something.
"I have little time to work on my school project." I don't have many hours that I can spend on it.
"I have little motivation to go to the gym." I don't have a lot of energy or drive to work out.
A little is more positive. It says we have a small amount of something, in a positive way.
"I have a little time to work on my school project." I have a short amount of time that I can use for this.
"I have a little motivation to go to the gym." This positive feeling, even though it is only small, can be used to get me into the door of the gym.
Adding an 'a' can turn the sentence from a negative into a positive:
I have few good ideas.
I have a few good ideas!
I hope this quick explanation has helped a little.
You can use the 5 sentences below to check your knowledge.
Which sentences are correct?
I have a little time, so I can still get my school project finished.
He has a little opportunity to make new friends. He is always working.
You have a little time left. You should start on your homework now before it gets too late!
She has a few ideas for the class party and is going to share them at the next meeting.
I have few ideas for the new restaurant menu. I'll write them down for you.