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  1. VIP Member
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      • Bulgarian
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      • Bulgaria
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      • Bulgaria

    • Join Date: Sep 2007
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    few, a few, the few

    Dear teachers,

    Would you be kind enough to explain to me the difference between few, a few and the few.

    I know that “few” have a negative idea.

    “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14).

    He has very few friends.

    a few = small number of persons or things. This phrase can differ slightly from few used alone, which means "not many." For example, “The party was to end ateight, but a few stayed on” indicates that a small number of guests remained, whereas “The party began at eight, and few attended” means that hardly any guests came.

    quite a few; quite a lot. A considerable or moderate amount, as in There's still quite a bit of snow on the ground, or Quite a few parking spaces are open.

    the few = ?

    I knowsomething about the speechNever was so much owed by so many to so few which was made by Winston Churchill to the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom on August 20, 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain.It is best remembered for his use of the phrase "the few" to describe the Allied aircrew of Royal Air Force (RAF), whose desperate struggle gained the victory.

    Thank you for your efforts.



  2. Key Member
    English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
      • Oriya
      • Home Country:
      • India
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      • India

    • Join Date: Mar 2008
    • Posts: 2,121

    Exclamation Re: few, a few, the few

    A few means a small quantity and used to express positive ideas - few means not a big quantity and used for negative idea.
    For example:
    - A few friends came to my party. This is a positive idea, I'm happy a few people came./
    - Few friends came to my party. This is a negative idea, I'm not happy because not many people came.
    Notice how "a few" focuses on how many people did come, but "few" focuses on how many didn't come.

    The few is used to specify one or two things.
    Examples: One of the few things I dislike is the late rising in the morning.


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