few or a few little or a little


Few or a Few Little or a Little?


Rule 3.2: Use the indefinite article with the words few or little to show that the quantity of a thing is small, but great enough to be of importance.


Tony was never lonely, he made a few good friends while he was in university.
The unsatisfied professor had a few problems with the student’s theory.

My poor grandmother needs a little help shopping this weekend.
The boys played a little baseball and then went home for dinner.

Rule 3.3: Do not use the indefinite article with the words few or little when the quantity of a thing is small that it is almost negligible and/or rare.


Tony was always lonely, he made few good friends while he was in university.
The satisfied professor had few problems with the student’s theory.

My grandmother is very strong. She needs little help shopping this weekend.
The boys played little baseball because they had to go home for dinner.


few or a few little or a little

Some believe that few/little without the indefinite article carries a negative meaning; however, this is not quite true.

Exercise 6: Do the sentences below have a positive or negative meaning? Check the appropriate box.

Exercise 7: a or Ø? Fill in the blanks.


Rule 3.4: Use the indefinite article with the words few or little when the words just or only are used.


The unpopular child has few friends →
The student made few mistakes on his test →
There is little crime in that neighborhood →
The sick boy ate little soup →

The unpopular child has only a few friends.
The student made just a few mistakes on his test.
There is only a little crime in this neighborhood.
The sick boy ate just a little soup.


Exercise 8: a or Ø? Fill in the blanks.