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    #1

    few/only a few

    I would like to know if there is any difference between "1" and "2".
    If no, which is more emphatic?

    1. He has few friends.
    2. He has only a few friends.

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    #2

    Re: few/only a few

    Quote Originally Posted by wowenglish1 View Post
    I would like to know if there is any difference between "1" and "2". No, they both mean that he doesn't have many friends.
    If no, which is more emphatic? I don't see any difference.

    1. He has few friends.
    2. He has only a few friends.
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    #3

    Re: few/only a few

    I would rather choose the second sentence. If you don't add a, most of the time it means somethig negative.


    1- He has few friends. Because he is rude


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  1. Harry Smith's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: few/only a few

    Quote Originally Posted by wowenglish1 View Post
    I would like to know if there is any difference between "1" and "2".
    If no, which is more emphatic?

    1. He has few friends.
    2. He has only a few friends.
    They are almost equal in meaning but can have different usage. It depends on the situation. You should try to feel it.
    e.g He knows a few English words ( about 5-10 words)
    He knows few words to speak English fluently. ( about 500 words)


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    #5

    Re: few/only a few

    1. He has few friends.
    2. He has only a few friends.

    1. In the context of the communication, this would mean "not enough"
    2. In the context of the communication, this would mean "quantity"

    Basically as already said, very little difference, because if the context changes, 2. could easily become 1.

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    #6

    Re: few/only a few

    Quote Originally Posted by wowenglish1 View Post
    I would like to know if there is any difference between "1" and "2".
    If no, which is more emphatic?

    1. He has few friends.
    2. He has only a few friends.
    If we want to be positive about something we use a few.

    A few of my friends turned up for my marriage, so I was quite pleased.

    I have a few friends in England, so I don't miss home much.

    For negative about something we use few.

    Few of my friends turned up for my marriage, so I was quite upset.

    I have few friends in England and I feel quite lonely.

    Regards,
    RJ1948


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    #7

    Re: few/only a few

    Quote Originally Posted by wowenglish1 View Post
    I would like to know if there is any difference between "1" and "2".
    If no, which is more emphatic?

    1. He has few friends.
    2. He has only a few friends.
    The question is not about few vs. a few, it's about few vs. only a few.
    (1) and (2) mean the same. (2) is standard, while (1) would be used in a formal context.


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    #8

    Re: few/only a few

    we use 'few' as in 'few friends' to emphasize how small a number of people or things is.

    John has few friends.
    Paul has a few friends.


    It could well be that John has more friends than Paul! But as rj1948 says, 'few friends' has a negative connotation (=an idea or feeling that a word invokes in a person in addition to its primary meaning). It implies that he is not liked; there must be something wrong with him that he cannot attract friends. It has the suggestion that the 'few' friends that he does have must be a bit odd themselves, or that a few regular people have such a great capacity for tolerance that they will endure his company.

    With Paul, it is more a statement of fact. He might have just moved to a new town and still does not know many people. It is a neutral or positive statement, but not negative as with 'few friends'.
    Last edited by David L.; 25-Jun-2008 at 09:42.

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