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  1. engee30's Avatar
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    #1

    Question only (a) little; only (a) few

    I still don't know exactly which of the following phrases is correct, or maybe they're all correct. If so, what's the difference between them, if any?
    only a little
    only little
    only a few
    only few

  2. #2

    Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    I still don't know exactly which of the following phrases is correct, or maybe they're all correct. If so, what's the difference between them, if any?
    only a little
    only little
    only a few
    only few

    You should use only a little and only a few. The phrases only little and only few are broken or incomplete.

  3. engee30's Avatar
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    #3

    Question Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    Quote Originally Posted by zeryphex View Post
    The phrases only little and only few are broken or incomplete.
    Is it because I didn't use the phrases 'only little' and 'only few' in a sentence that they're 'broken' or 'incomplete'?

    I need to go to the shops. There's only little left.
    I need some more eggs. There are only few left.

    Would it be all right now?

  4. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #4

    Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    Try,

    I need to go to the shops. There's only a little (milk) left.
    I need some more eggs. There are only a few (eggs) left.

    Count noun: a few;e.g., eggs
    Non-count noun: a little; e.g., milk

    Does that help?

  5. engee30's Avatar
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    #5

    Smile Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Try,

    I need to go to the shops. There's only a little (milk) left.
    I need some more eggs. There are only a few (eggs) left.

    Count noun: a few;e.g., eggs
    Non-count noun: a little; e.g., milk
    Sorry, I simpy forgot to put the noun 'sugar' in the first sentence to make it more meaningful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Does that help?
    Oh yes. Thanks again.

  6. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #6

    Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    You're welcome.

  7. #7

    Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Is it because I didn't use the phrases 'only little' and 'only few' in a sentence that they're 'broken' or 'incomplete'?

    I need to go to the shops. There's only little left.
    I need some more eggs. There are only few left.

    Would it be all right now?
    I can think of examples where you don't use "a" in those phrases.

    I need to buy more milk. There('s/ is) little left. (no need to use "only")

    The general is relieving some of his officers. Only few know whom.

    You can also separate the two sentences/clauses with a semicolon since they're talking about the same "idea." A semicolon just separates two clauses talking about the same thing.

  8. engee30's Avatar
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    #8

    Unhappy Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    Quote Originally Posted by zeryphex View Post
    The general is relieving some of his officers. Only few know whom.
    Wait a minute, please. If you say that I can use the phrase 'only few', so my next question is, why did you say that I can't use such phrase beforehand?
    There must be some reasonable explanation to this issue.
    Last edited by engee30; 03-Jun-2007 at 02:37.

  9. #9

    Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    Quote Originally Posted by engee30 View Post
    Is it because I didn't use the phrases 'only little' and 'only few' in a sentence that they're 'broken' or 'incomplete'?

    I need to go to the shops. There's only little left.
    I need some more eggs. There are only few left.

    Would it be all right now?
    Actually, the correct choice of wording would be "awkward." I would usually hear only a little and only a few in speech. Technically, I guess these sentences are grammatically correct.

  10. engee30's Avatar
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    #10

    Question Re: only (a) little; only (a) few

    Quote Originally Posted by zeryphex View Post
    Technically, I guess these sentences are grammatically correct.
    Oh dear. I got a bit confused about the topic. The thing is I'd like to know whether I can use both versions of the phrases without being scorned for that. I just can imagine myself sitting an FCE exam, and making some kinds of transformation on the sentences like the one below:

    Can you get some more coffee because there isn't much left? (only)
    Can you get some more coffee because there is only little left?


    Wrong answer!

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