Using a few instead of few in a sentence changes a sentence's meaning. Whereas "a few" implies a small number of some that is greater than two, "few" implies only a small number. Other words, like "very" or "quite," may also come before "a few" or "few" and further change sentence meaning. Examples can be found below.

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A Few versus Few comparison chart
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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"

Examples of "Few" and "A Few" in a Sentence

Effects of Modifiers

Other words can further modify the meaning of "a few" and "few." For example, "quite a few" changes the meaning of "a few" from some to many: "Quite a few people attended the party." In other words, many people attended the party.

Similarly, "very few" emphasizes just how few things or people are being discussed: "She used very few buttons on her art project." In other words, she didn't use many buttons at all.


The word "few," which can be used as a noun, pronoun, and adjective, comes from Old English. It specifically means seldom or little and is able to function as both a describing word when it is an adjective and a word that can be described when it is a noun.


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"Few vs. A Few." Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 8 Jun 2022. < >