Focus on: few X little

enflagHey all! How was Christmas eve/day? Mine were good, although everybody is melting down here in Brazil, which obviously discourages a plenty of Christmas vibe. Anyway, it’s still 2012 and since the world hasn’t ended after all, it means that, yes, we still have to study English , my dear readers. A lot! So, let’s get down to work, ’cause today I’m on fire.

fewlittle

Observe that few (= not many) is used with plurals (few questions, few people, few words), whereas little (= not much) is used with singular (usually uncountable) words (little patience, little influence, a little water, a little bacon).

Of course, some will do the trick, as it can be used for both singular and plural words (some questions, some people, some bacon, some information), but it’s no excuse to ignore the other ways to quantify and determine nouns.

By the way, it’s important to remark that not only do “few” and “little” have negative meanings (“not much/many as one would like”), they are also rather formal language. For example, in everyday conversation, we would usually say “Only a few children like onion” (instead of “few children like onion), or “I haven’t got much time” (instead of “I’ve got little time”).

Please mind a very common mistake among Brazilian students: small refers to size; to quantify, we use little/few/much/many/a lot of/some/several, etc.

It’s curious how basics can still baffle students – never be hampered by that, though. Keep reading and listening as much English as you can, and try to find ways to practice the new items you learn. I assure you it becomes easier and natural as time goes by.

Singular and plural

brflag

Olá! Como foram de Natal? O meu foi bom, apesar de todos estarem derretendo aqui no Brasil, o que estraga muito o clima natalino. Enfim, ainda é 2012, vocês acharam mesmo que o mundo ia acabar e não precisaríamos mais estudar inglês? Pois precisamos sim. E muito! Então, ao trabalho, porque hoje estou muito animada.

fewlittle

Observem que few (= not many) é usado com plural (few questions, few people, few words), enquanto que little (= not much) é usado com singular (geralmente com nomes e coisas incontáveis: little patience, little influence, a little water, a little bacon).

É claro que existe o some, que pode ser aplicado em palavras no singular e no plural  (some questions, some people, some bacon, some information), mas isso não serve de desculpa para ignorar as outras maneiras de quantificar e determinar substantivos.

Aliás, é importante notar que few e little não só possuem um teor negativo (dão a entender algo como “não tanto quanto gostaria”), mas também são marcas de um discurso bastante formal. Por exemplo, em conversas cotidianas nós geralmente diríamos  “Only a few children like onion” (ao invés de “few children like onion), ou “I haven’t got much time” (ao invés de “I’ve got little time”).

Cuidado com um errinho muito comum entre estudantes brasileiros: small é usado para indicar tamanho; se nossa intenção é quantificar, temos que usar little/few/much/many/a lot of/some/several, etc.

Mas é assim mesmo, os itens básicos confundem bastante os estudantes, principalmente os que estão começando agora. Por isso, não permitam que coisas pequenas assim desanimem seu estudo. Leiam e ouçam o máximo de inglês que vocês conseguirem e procurem pessoas ou situações pra praticar as coisas novas que vocês aprenderem. Podem ter certeza de que fica mais fácil, mais natural e mais divertido com o passar do tempo.

About Isabella Ferraro

English examiner, teacher and frustrated ballerina. Geek, gauche, obsessed with books, podcasts and the web. Dedicated professional and blogger, tho. More info below blog's header.
This entry was posted in Error correction, Focus on, Grammar and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Focus on: few X little

  1. Pingback: Focus on: the date | English as a Foreign Language

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