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            Ask the Editor
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            Serenity Carr, Assistant Editor
            Few and A Few, Not Many and Some
            Monday August 23rd 2021
            Question
            Which is correct, "I have few words to say" or "I have a few words to say"? — Chiamaka , Nigeria
            Answer

            "I have few words to say" and "I have a few words to say" have different meanings.

            "Few" means "not many" but "a few" means "not many but some." While they both mean "not many" or "a small number," "few" emphasizes the smallness of the number and "a few" emphases that there are some.

            So "I have few words to say" means "I do not have many words to say," but "I have a few words to say" means "I have some words to say" (or more commonly "I have something to say."

             

            Here are more examples of how "few" and "a few" are used:

            • A few people at the party stayed late. [= Some people at the party stayed late.]
            • I bought a few apples at the store. [= I bought some apples at the store.]
            • Few students aced the test. [= Not many students aced the test.]
            • Few birds ever come to our feeders. [= Not many birds ever come to our feeders.]

             

             

            I hope this helps.

             

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