Quantifiers: 'few', 'a few', 'little' and 'a bit of'

Do you know how to use a few, few, very little and a bit of? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how these quantifiers are used with countable and uncountable nouns.

I have a few friends, so I'm not lonely.
She has few friends, so she's quite lonely.
We've got a bit of time before our train. Shall we get a coffee?
We've got very little time before our train. Hurry up!

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Countable and uncountable nouns 2: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

A few and a bit of or a little mean some. Often we feel this amount is enough or more than we expected. We use a few with plural nouns and a bit of or a little with uncountable nouns.

I have a few ideas.
I've brought a few friends.
There's a bit of milk left.
It needs a little more work.

We use few and very little to show that we are talking about a small amount. Often we feel this amount is not enough or less than we expected. Few is for countable nouns and very little is for uncountable nouns.

Few people came to the meeting.
There are few places where you can still see these birds.
We have very little time.
I have very little money.

Note that you can use little without very, but it is less common and sounds quite formal.

She had little water.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Countable and uncountable nouns 2: Grammar test 2

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Submitted by marjikjikjik on Sun, 30/04/2023 - 10:02


Why in this sentence a few is correct?no few
The doctors told me to rest for a few days

Hi marjikjikjik,

"A few" and "few" have different meanings. "A few" has a generally positive meaning, and "few" has a generally negative meaning. For example:

  • "I have a few friends" - this means I have enough friends, or I have some friends.
  • "I have few friends" - this means I have not many friends, or not enough friends.

In the example you mentioned, it should be "a few days" because the meaning is "some days" or "enough days".

I hope that helps to understand it.


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by g-ssan on Sun, 06/11/2022 - 17:04


Hello sir ,
What is the rule to difference between a few and few ?
It’s the example eight in first exercise .

Hello g-ssan,

The idea is that the speaker is asking permission to bring some friends. In a situation like this, generally there's not feeling that the number of friends isn't enough and so 'a few' is the correct choice to express this meaning.

Strictly speaking, I suppose it is possible for 'few' to work in this sentence as well, but it would be very unusual.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by scottrive on Fri, 15/07/2022 - 09:20


When I want to keep focus on ‘10’ and ‘welfare’ and I want to mean the sense of “10 types of welfare”.
What should I write in brief but right? 10 welfare, OR, 10 welfares.

Hi scottrive,

In this case, the noun needs to be countable (since there are 10 of them). You can say "10 welfares" but I think "10 types of welfare" is clearer.

I hope that helps.


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Faii on Sun, 15/05/2022 - 08:17


Do 'a few' and 'the few' mean the same ?
In my textbook it says - "the few" means " nor many " .So does it refer to some ?

Hello Faii,

Yes, 'a few', 'few' and 'the few' all refer to a small number of people or things, and so in that way have a similar meaning to 'some'.

'the few' has the same meaning as 'few', but the definite article 'the' shows that the speaker is referring to a group of people or things that they think the person they are speaking to is already familiar with. Perhaps they've already been talking about it or it could be obvious for some other reason in the situation.

It's a little difficult to explain without a specific example, so if you had any specific sentences in mind, please let us know.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Muhannad M Hammoud on Fri, 01/10/2021 - 16:51


It's helpful, thanks.

Submitted by bojms45 on Mon, 26/04/2021 - 03:28

I'm confused about the sentence "There is very little space in this room.". Since space can be plural, why don't we use "few" in this sentence?