(a) few and (a) little

1. We use few with plural nouns, and little with singular (uncountable) nouns.

  • Few politicians are really honest.
  • I have little interest in politics

2. There is a difference between a few and few, and between a little and little.
Few and little are rather negative: they mean ‘not much/many’.
A few and a little are more positive, their meaning is more like ‘some’.

  • His ideas are very difficult, and few people understand them.
    (=not many people,  hardly any people)
  • His ideas are difficult, but a few people understand them.
    (=some people- better than nothing)
  • I need little water
  • Give the roses a little water every day.

3. Few and little (without a) are rather formal. In conversation, we prefer not many, not much, only a few or only a little.

  • Only a few people speak a foreign language perfectly.
  • Come on! We haven‘t got much time!