FEW and LITTLE are both quantifiers.
♦ Few means ‘not many’. → Few questions were asked at the meeting.
♦ Little means ‘not much’. → Little attention was paid to comfort.
The comparative forms are :
♦ Fewer (than) : → Fewer than 50 brochures were distributed.
♦ Less (than) : → Less money was spent on advertising than last year.
The superlative forms are :
♦ The fewest : → In December we received the fewest number of enquiries ever.
♦ The least :→ This car is the least expensive of all the models on show.
FEW-FEWER-FEWEST are used with countable nouns (one biscuit, two biscuits…)
- Few biscuits were left on the plate. (= Not many biscuits were left.).
- Few people attended the concert. (= Not many people attended..)
- Few readers noticed the advertisement.(=Not many readers noticed.).
- Few countries provide really good public transport.
- There are fewer customers in the shops today than yesterday. (= Not as many …as)
- Fewer people voted than was expected.
- There were fewer accidents this year than last year.
- We have fewer problems than before with the new system.
- Maria made the fewest mistakes in the English test. (= The lowest number of …)
- Jack’s article received the fewest reviews.
- Her comments always contain the fewest words possible.
- The oldest model comes with the fewest features.
LITTLE-LESS-LEAST are used with uncountable nouns (milk, water, attention, energy, hope …)
- Little attention was paid to the warning (= Not much attention was paid.)
- There was little hope of finding any survivors. (= There was not much hope).
- There is little milk left in the jug. (= There is not much milk left.)
- Little is known about the cause of the accident. (= Not much is known)
- Alex earns less money than Julia.(= not as much money as)
- The new system is less satisfactory than the old one. (= not as satisfactory as)
- My grandfather has less energy than when he was younger.
- The book was less interesting than I expected.
- The youngest pupils were given the least homework. (= the lowest amount)
- The poorest people spend the least money.
- Charlie did the least work of any of us.
- Julie chose the least expensive item on the menu.
|Few||Not many/not a lot||There are few melons in the shop today. We don’t have much choice.|
|Fewer||Not as many.||The supermarket has fewer melons than the greengrocer .|
|Fewest||The smallest number||The shop has the fewest melons today.|
|Little||Not much/not a lot||There is little milk left in the jug.
Is there enough for breakfast?
|Less||Not as much||We bought less milk yesterday than today.|
|Least||The smallest quantity.||The eldest child drinks the least milk.|
NB: A few and a little have a positive meaning. They indicate a small amount.