Welcome to twominenglish.com. Teaching you English through two-minute lessons.
In this lesson, we will talk about the difference between ‘a few’ and ‘few’.
Edgar: Hello. Today we’ll talk about the difference between ‘a few’ and ‘few’.
Alan: Ok, Edgar. Can you explain?
Edgar: Well, when we use ‘a few’, the idea is positive; it means that something exists, in other words, there is some or a small amount of something.
Alan: And ‘few’, without ‘a’?
Edgar: That gives a negative idea, that something is largely absent. It sounds like you need more.
Alan: Oh! I think I understand. Does it refer to people and things?
Edgar: Well, it can only be used to refer to countable things, like, people, cars, games, buildings. Countable things.
Alan: I see. Can you give me an example?
Edgar: Sure. There are a few places I would like to visit in Europe.
Alan: So, there are three or four places you’d like to visit in Europe, right?
Edgar: That’s absolutely right, Alan.
Alan: And, what about ‘few’, without ‘a’?
Edgar: It indicates that there is a small number of things or people at a place. For example: There were few people at my party, but they were close friends and we had a great time.
Alan: There were not many people at the party, right?
Alan: Well, does that mean I can say that I don’t have few, but many questions about English?
Edgar: Yes, Alan. You can say that…let’s listen to some dialogues and see if you have fewer questions later.
Poe: Good morning, Melissa. I’d like to show you a few emails we’ve received from our client in Toronto.
Melissa: Sure, Poe. Is there a problem?
Poe: Well, there are a few problems. First, he isn’t happy about the last delivery. It seems like a few items were missing.
Melissa: I’ll look into it. What else?
Poe: He said a few of the items he did receive were defective. And he complained that we didn’t answer his emails promptly.
Poe: Melissa, I spoke to the client and explained we had few people on staff, but we would take care of all his complaints.
Melissa: Did he understand the situation? Few companies would be that patient.
Poe: Yes. I told him very few items were missing.
Melissa: Good. We have few clients right now. We have to keep them happy!