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Countable and uncountable nouns 2

Do you know how to use a few, few, very little and a bit of?

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

Language level

Beginner: A1
Pre-intermediate: A2

Comments

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?

Hello bojms45,

'Space' can be countable or uncountable, depending on the meaning you have in mind.

When it is countable it describes individual parts of a room which are physically identifiable. For example, a hospital ward where there are many beds has a certain number of spaces for patients. However, when we talk in general terms about whether or not a particular location is cramped or not for whatever is in it we use 'space' as an uncountable noun:

There's so many boxes in here that there's no space for anything else!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

This done well

Sorry I meant. Is it OK to bring a few friends or Is it OK to bring few friends

Hi Maahir,
I think "a" in "a few friends" is not an article for "friends".
And as in the grammar explanation above, "few friends" means the amount of friends is not enough or less that expected while "a few friends" means enough or more than expected.

Hi,
which sentence is correct. Is it OK to bring a few friends or Is it OK to bring a few friends. I chose the second one considering that A article can't be used with plural nouns. I mean, is it a few friend or few friends?.

Thanks for your tremendous help.

Hi Maahir,

It's true that we can't use a or an with plural nouns. But we can use it in some quantity phrases, e.g. a few friends, a large number of friends, a lot of friends. In these phrases, a refers to another noun (few / large number / lot), not to friends directly.

A few friends has a positive meaning (i.e. some friends) and few friends has a negative meaning (i.e. not enough). So, the first option is right for your question.

Does that make sense?

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

A very useful lesson. Thanks a lot!

Hallo, I still don't understand the difference between "some" and "a few", which i can use in sentence?hopefully you're can answer my question. Thanks

Hello qurtubi,

'some' and 'a few' have very similar meanings. I'd say that 'some' is a little less specific than 'a few', which is often used to refer fewer items than 'some'. But both are very relative and so I'm afraid there is no specific number of items they refer to, because both can refer to groups that are relatively small (for example, the people in a class) or to millions (for example, the number of cars in a country).

In terms of grammar, 'some' can be used with both count and uncount nouns, whereas 'a few' can only be used with count nouns.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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