few / little / less / fewer

Few is used with countable nouns, and little is used with uncountable nouns:

  • I have a little money.

    (money = uncountable)

  • I have a few dollars.

    (dollars = countable)

  • There’s little entertainment in this town.

    (entertainment = uncountable)

  • There are few nightclubs in this town.

    (nightclubs = countable)

  • ne important detail:
  • little is used with a negative connotation (“not much”)
  • a little is used when it’s a positive connotation (“better than nothing!”)

    It’s the same with “few” and “a few”:

  • He’s not very popular. He has few friends. or ( a bad thing)
  • He has a few friends that he hangs out with all the time. or ( a good thing)
  • She’s not qualified for the job because she has little experience in this area. (= a bad thing)
  • She could do this job; she has a little experience in this area. or ( a good thing)

    Fewer and less are the comparative forms:

    Base Form Comparative Superlative

    few fewer fewest

    little less least

  • If I made 8 mistakes on the test, John made 5 mistakes, and Harriet only made 2 mistakes, then: I made few mistakes on the test, but John made fewer mistakes than me, and Harriet made the fewest mistakes.
  • If I have $20, John has $12, and Harriet has only $3, then: I have little money, John has less money than me, and Harriet has the least money out of all of us.
  • ne very common MISTAKE in the United States is signs in supermarkets that say “Ten items or less” for the express checkout lanes. The correct way is “Ten items or fewer” – because the word “items” is countable!