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The two quantifiers, little and few, cause a lot of problems for students of English. In this Challenge, you will have to answer 20 questions about the use of little and few and a little and a few in 10 minutes if you want your name to appear at the top of the leader board. Take a little time to think about the questions as you want to get as few as possible wrong. With a little thought, you might be one of the few people who can get them all right.
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A Few and a little are quantifiers which mean not nothing or some. Few and little when used without the article have negative meanings. They are used with countable and uncountable nouns, little with singular, uncountable nouns and few with plural countable nouns.
A little, a few with a noun
We use a little with singular uncountable nouns. We use a few with plural countable nouns.
I have a little flour left so I will make pancakes.
I have a few pancakes left, so you can eat them.
Little, few with a noun
We use little with uncountable nouns. We use few with plural countable nouns. They are used in formal contexts.
There is little oil left for humanity to use.
There are few occasions when you will see me dressed in fine clothes.
(A) little, (a) few without a noun
We can use (a) little and (a) few as pronouns. We can use them in place of a noun when the context makes the noun obvious.
I'll tell you a little about my life in Spain.
I can tell you little about my life in Spain.
Don't eat all the sweets. Just take a few.
Little and few are uncommon without a noun. We use them in formal contexts.
Little is known of his early life.
Few would agree that he is the best manager.
(A) little of, (a) few of
We use of with (a) little and (a) few when they come before articles (a/an, the), demonstratives (this, that), possessives (my, your) or pronouns (him, them).
Put a little of the milk in the bowl and then a few handfuls of flour.
A few jars of jam were found after she died.
A little as adverb
We use a little as an adverb of degree which is more formal than a bit.
He sighed a little and then fell asleep.
The dog was panting a little after the chase.
A little with adjectives, determiners, adverbs
We use a little before adjectives and adverbs to modify them and sound more formal than a bit.
I think she's getting a little better since she came home from hospital.
You need a little more gas.
Little as adjective
We use little as an adjective to mean ‘small’.
She was only a little girl.
In Ireland they talk about "the little people" as if they really existed.
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