A Few vs. Few

A Few
Few

Few, when used without a preceding a, means "very few" or "none at all". On the other hand, a few is used to indicate "not a large number". The difference is subtle, yet there are instances where the two can mean completely opposite things.

I have a few objections to the vendor's proposed approach. implies that I am not on board with the vendor's proposal. I have some objections, but not so many as to say "I have several objections...". Nevertheless, I have objections that need to be addressed.

I have few objections to the vendor's proposed approach. is a more positive statement that implies I am more or less on board with the proposal. It is not a whole-hearted endorsement, but I barely have any objections at all.

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A Few

Few

Meaning "A few" means "some" or "a handful". "Few" means "virtually none" or "almost zero".
Connotation "A few" connotes "not an overwhelmingly large number, but not an insignificantly small number either." "Few" without the preceding "a" connotes "an insignificantly small number"

edit Examples of Few and "A few"

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Comments: A Few vs Few

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Anonymous comments (7)

June 3, 2014, 9:55am

I am now clear

— 82.✗.✗.141
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May 25, 2014, 6:51pm

Very helpful,thanks.

— 86.✗.✗.165
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December 16, 2012, 4:00pm

very useful for all

— 122.✗.✗.26
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November 17, 2011, 7:09am

I'm so glad I have this cleared out, I used to believe the opposite thing completely before reading this article and the comments herein. Thank you so much.

— 89.✗.✗.233
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August 16, 2010, 3:17pm

83.31.52.198:

Yes, that's right. "I have few objections" means I have virtually no objections. And "I have a few objections" translates to "Hold on..not so fast. I have some objections here that need to be addressed." Few and A Few are actually opposites of each other.

— 67.✗.✗.106
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August 16, 2010, 5:46am

interesting interpretation: ???"I have few objections to the proposal" actually means "I have no objections". ???

— 83.✗.✗.198
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October 2, 2007, 7:58am

Actually, when someone uses the word 'few' without a preceding 'a', they actually mean 'no'. It's a way of putting forward one's opinion. Using the same example, "I have few objections to the proposal" actually means "I have no objections". The same goes for the difference between 'little' and 'a little'. When used with a preceding 'a', little refers to a small number/quantity. For example, "There's a little chance of we winning the case" means we can win the case, though chances are not very high. But when a doctor says "There's little hope of patient's survival", he/she means that there's no hope of patient's survival.....and just puts it across in a different way.

— 12.✗.✗.7
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