Common Mistakes in English: A Little vs. a Few, Little vs. Few

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The quantifiers "a little," "little," "a few," and "few" are often used interchangeably in English. However, there is a difference based on whether the object specified is countable or uncountable. The use of the indefinite article "a" also changes the meaning of these important words.

A Little - A Few / Little - Few

A little and little refer to non-count nouns, and are used with the singular form:

Examples:

There's little wine left in the bottle.
I've put a little sugar into your coffee.

A few and few refer to count nouns, and are used with the plural form:

Examples:

There are a few students in that classroom.
He says few applicants have presented themselves.

A little and a few convey a positive meaning.

Examples:

I've got a little wine left, would you like some?
They've got a few positions open.

Little and few convey a negative meaning.

Examples:

He's got little money left.
I have few friends in Chicago.