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English Grammar and Exercises for ESL learners.


(few - fewer - fewest / little - less - least)

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.).
  • There are fewer customers in the shops today than yesterday.
  • Fewer people voted than was expected.
  • Maria made the fewest mistakes in the English test.
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.)
  • Alex earns less money than Julia.
  • My grandfather has less energy than when he was younger.
  • The youngest pupils were given the least homework.

  Meaning Example
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.
  • A few = a small number
    • There are a few melons = There is a small number of melons.
  • A little = a small quantity.
    • There is a little milk = There is a small quantity of milk.

See also:  countable and plural nouns

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