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a few/a little

Few is used with count nouns:

a few few
a few = 3-4 few (adjective, to describe a small amount)
a few cars few cars
a few items few items
a few ideas few ideas
a few people few people
a few men few men
There were a few (meaning 3 or 4 ) people at the party There were few people at the party.
(meaning a small number, It could of been ten people when fifty people expected)
Q: How many cars are there?
A: There are just a few.
She’s sad because she has very few friends.
(This means she doesn’t have many friends.
Notice there is no article. “A few” means something different.)
There are a few bananas on the table. Few people were at the meeting. She expected 20, but only three came.
(In this example and the one above, the situation is not good.)

Few people came to the party. Fifty people were expected. Only ten showed up. There were very few people there.

A few books are on the table.

Few books are on the table.

We had few problems with the computer. (sounds good.)

We had a few problems with the computer. (sounds very good.)

Little is used with non count nouns:

a little / little = a small amount

He dropped a little paint on his wife’s head.

(You can also use… a little bit of)

He dropped a little bit of paint on his wife’s head.

There’s a little snow on the road and on the ground.

He got very little sleep last night.
(Notice that “sleep” is a noun in this sentence. “A little sleep” is a small amount of sleep, and “little sleep” is not very much sleep or no sleep.)

Q: Did she find what she was looking for in the newspaper?
A: No. There was very little information.

a b
a little time little time
a little memory little memory
a little money little money
a little oil little oil
a little pain little pain
a little food little food
  • I have a little time today. (a little time = some time = time to spare)
  • I have little time today. = I don’t have a lot of time. = I don’t have any time at all. (little time = not time or no extra time)
  • We have a little food in the fridge.
    we have some food.
  • We have little food in the fridge.
    There isn’t very much food.
  • There’s a little oil left in the bottle.
    There’s some oil.
  • There’s little oil in the bottle.
    There’s isn’t very much oil.

Remember: “a little” and “little” are used when describing amounts for noncount nouns.

  • I have very little interest in doing that.
  • He has very little information.
  • There was very little traffic in the morning.

Red Level Quiz 12 - A Few / A Little

Part A.
Directions: Fill in the blank with “a few” or “a little.” (20 points)

  • She has a little money in her purse.
  • There are a few people in the store.
  • Please get a few oranges when you go to the store.
  • I have a little fruit with me if you’re hungry.
  • They bought a few books at the bookstore.
  • There were quite a few children on the playground.
  • Here’s a little information about Mount Rushmore.
  • It took a few hours to drive to the campground.
  • I need a few bucks. Can you lend me some money.
  • All but a few of the guests got sick after the party.
  • A little patience is all we need to get through the day.
  • This situation is a little embarrassing.
  • Call me back in a few minutes.
  • The movie was good for a few laughs.
  • We can all use a little laughter.
  • This soup needs a little salt.
  • There were quite a few bees outside this morning.
  • I saw a few deer in the woods this morning.
  • Can you give me a little help.
  • How about a little coffee? Do you want some?

Part B.
Directions: Fill in the blank with “few” or “little.” Notice the meanings of these words are different from those in Part A. (20 pts)

  • My boss has little patience for employees who are late.
  • In high school she had very few friends.
  • There are few good schools in that city.
  • We have little time to waste. Let’s go now.
  • She feels very little sympathy for the poor.
  • There are too few buses at this time of the day.
  • Few people showed up at the party.
  • This is too little, too late.
  • The houses here are few and far between.
  • Very few marriages last longer than 50 years.
  • Little effort went into the production and it showed.
  • There was so little competition in the race, he won easily.
  • There are very few fish in this part of the lake.
  • They put very little sugar in these cookies.
  • Few bacteria can survive these kinds of temperatures.
  • The students put too little effort into their homework.
  • Few shopping malls are open on Christmas day.
  • I know this is little comfort, but I’m sorry.
  • There are few women with her qualifications.
  • He gets little exercise, so he’s put on a lot of weight.

Reading Time : Patty invited some friends over for dinner.

Patty invited some friends over for dinner. She moved into her first apartment two months ago, so she decided to have some friends over to celebrate and show off her new place. She also started a new job not long ago. Some of the people that she invited over were from work.

Patty didn’t have all the ingredients for the dinner that she planned, so she made a list and then she went shopping at the local grocery store. She never used to go grocery shopping when she lived at home with her parents, but now she has to do everything for herself.

She bought fresh tomatoes, basil, lettuce, broccoli, green peppers, red peppers, some pasta, salad dressing, some olives, and several pounds of chicken. She also bought a few bottles of wine and some beer. For her guests who don’t drink alcohol, she bought some non-alcoholic drinks.

For an appetizer, she made bruschetta. Bruschetta is an Italian recipe. To make it, you start with toasted pieces of French bread brushed with garlic and olive oil. The bread is then topped with a slice of tomato, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil.

For the main course, Patty roasted some chicken and some potatoes. She also made a pasta salad because some of her guests were vegetarians and don’t eat any kind of animal meat.

There were 20 people at her party. It was hard to plan and prepare for such a large group, but everyone had a nice time and loved the food. Most of Patty’s guests brought her a house-warming gift, some wine, or some flowers. One of her friends brought five apple pies, so after dinner they had the pie for dessert.

Patty’s party was a great success!

How much do you remember from the reading ? Fill in the blanks.

1: Patty invited some friends over for dinner.
2: She made a list before she went shopping.
3: She never used to go grocery shopping when she lived at home with her parents.
4: Patty bought a lot of food at the store.
5: She roasted a chicken and some potatoes.
6: Most of her guests brought her something when they arrived.
7: Everyone had a good time.