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  1. #1
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    Question When do we use "a few" and "few", "a little" "little"

    Help..
    I really don't know the difference between
    "a few" and "few"
    "a little" and "little"

    All I know is we use "little" or "a little" for uncountable.
    And "few" or "a few" for countable.

    But the question and the problem is:
    When it comes to uncountable, when do we use "little" or "a little"?
    As like for the countable, when do we use "few" or "a few"?

    And please don't say it's the same, because the book's answer key give different answers for these questions withOUT giving any explanation.

    For example of the questions:

    1. There is ___ rice left. I need to cook some more.
    2. There is only ___ water left, so share it with others.
    3. I have ___ things to add to that topic.
    4. There were ___ mistakes on your essay.

    Don't bother giving me the answer.
    I've got them. (not because that I'm smart, but I have the answer key)
    1. little
    2. a little
    3. few
    4. a few
    but WHY?
    That's one thing that the book failed to include, the reason or explanation behind the answer.
    Please..anyone..
    Especially who really understand this kind of thing.
    Thanks before..
    Gbu..


    -=VGE=-

  2. #2
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    Default Re: When do we use "a few" and "few", "a little" "little"

    I hope they will answer your question since this matter interests me too!
    Last edited by Happy Puppy; 20-Aug-2005 at 23:27.

  3. #3
    Dandelion is offline Member
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    Default Re: When do we use "a few" and "few", "a little" "little"

    A few and a little express a positive idea. They indicate that something exists or is present.

    Although she has been here only two weeks, she has already made a few friends.
    This is a positive idea. She has made some friends.

    I'm very pleased. I've been able to save a little money this month. This is a positive idea. I have saved some money instead of spending all of it.

    Few and little give a negative idea; they indicate that something is largely absent.

    I feel sorry for her. She has few friends.
    Negative idea: She does not have many friends; she has almost no friends.

    I have little money. I don't even have enough money to buy lunch.
    Negative idea: I have almost no money.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: When do we use "a few" and "few", "a little" "little"

    WoW! This is a much higher level, than "advanced", I guess! I have a good few advanced-level books about English but none of them implies what you have said! :)

  5. #5
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    Talking Thanks..

    Thanks Dandelion...
    You've been very helpful..

    But I don't think it's quite suitable for the questions and answer keys from the book that I bought, either we're talking about different kind of expressions of number and quantity ("a few", "few", etc.), or the book's answer key was wrong.
    But I really like your explanation, and I found it very useful, thanks..

    GBu..

    -=VGE=-
    Last edited by Vincents_Genesius_Evans; 21-Aug-2005 at 17:03.

  6. #6
    Dandelion is offline Member
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    Default Re: When do we use "a few" and "few", "a little" "little"

    Quote Originally Posted by Happy Puppy
    WoW! This is a much higher level, than "advanced", I guess! I have a good few advanced-level books about English but none of them implies what you have said! :)
    I'd hardly call this an advanced grammar point. You can find a good, simple explanation in elementary-level grammar books such as Essential Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy.


  7. #7
    Dandelion is offline Member
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    Default Re: Thanks..

    Quote Originally Posted by Vincents_Genesius_Evans
    Thanks Dandelion...
    You've been very helpful..

    But I don't think it's quite suitable for the questions and answer keys from the book that I bought, either we're talking about different kind of expressions of number and quantity ("a few", "few", etc.), or the book's answer key was wrong.
    But I really like your explanation, and I found it very useful, thanks..

    GBu..

    -=VGE=-
    What's the name of your book? I'm afraid the questions in it are not very suitable. You see, you need more context.

    Let's try again.
    a little = some; a small amount / a few = some; a small number (Positive Idea)
    little = nearly no/nearly nothing / few = nearly no (Negative Idea)

    PLEASE NOTE that "only a little" and "only a few" have a negative meaning.
    Pease hurry. We've only got a little time.
    The village was very small. There were only a few houses.

    1. There is ___ rice left. I need to cook some more.
    There is little (nearly no) rice left. I need to cook some more. OK
    There is a little (a small amount of) rice left, but I still need to cook some more. (There's not enough for everybody.) OK
    2. There is only ___ water left, so share it with others.
    There is only a little water left, so share it with the others. OK
    There is little (nearly no) water left, so share it with the others. OK
    There is only little water left,so share it with the others.Ungrammatical
    3. I have ___ things to add to that topic.
    I have few things (nearly nothing) to add to that topic. OK
    I have a few (a small number of) things to add to that topic. OK
    4. There were ___ mistakes on your essay.
    There were few (nearly no) mistakes in your essay. OK
    There were a few (some) mistakes in your essay. OK

    I hope this helps.

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    Default Re: When do we use "a few" and "few", "a little" "little"

    Try this:

    Put in little / a little / few / a few.

    1. We must be quick. We have ____________ time.
    2. We have ________time before the meeting. Let's have some coffee.
    3. Do you mind if I ask you ________________ questions?
    4. I don't think Jill would be a good teacher. She has _________ patience.
    5. This is a boring place to live. There is _____________ to do.
    6. Listen carefully. I'm going to give you ______________ advice.
    7. Would you like milk in your tea?
    Yes, please. _________________ .
    8. I don't know much Spanish - only ______________ words.
    9. This town is not very interesting, so ____________ tourists come here.
    10. She's lucky. She has _____________ problems.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: When do we use "a few" and "few", "a little" "little"

    Here's my answer...I don't know if they're correct...I just try...

    1.We must be quickly, we have little time
    2.We have a little time before the meeting. Letís have some coffee
    3.Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?
    4.I donít think Jill would be a good teacher. She has little patience
    5.This is a boring place to live. There is few things to do
    6.Listen carefully. Iím going to give you a few advice
    7.Would you like milk in you coffee?
    Yes, please. A Little
    8.I donít know much Spanish Ė only few words
    9.This town is not very interesting, so few tourists come here
    10.Sheís lucky. She has few problems.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: When do we use "a few" and "few", "a little" "little"

    Quote Originally Posted by vannessa
    Here's my answer...I don't know if they're correct...I just try...

    1.We must be quickly, we have little time
    1. We must be QUICK; we have little time. OK
    2.We have a little time before the meeting. Letís have some coffee. OK
    3.Do you mind if I ask you a few questions? OK
    4.I donít think Jill would be a good teacher. She has little patience OK
    5.This is a boring place to live. There is few things to do. NOT OK
    5. There is LITTLE to do. OK There ARE few things to do. OK
    6.Listen carefully. Iím going to give you a few advice. NOT OK
    Advice is uncountable. I'm going to give you A LITTLE advice.
    7.Would you like milk in your coffee?
    Yes, please. A Little OK
    8.I donít know much Spanish Ė only few words NOT OK
    only A FEW WORDS
    9.This town is not very interesting, so few tourists come here. OK
    10.Sheís lucky. She has few problems.
    OK

    Very good!
    Last edited by Dandelion; 22-Aug-2005 at 23:54.

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