Hi, I’m Sarah. Welcome to The Daily English Show.
It’s mistake day today and I’m going to talk about a few common mistakes – that is getting few and a few mixed up. And getting little and a little mixed up.
Let’s look at a few examples.
I’m going to read you some examples from this book: Common Mistakes in English, which is a pretty good book by the way, so I’ll put the details in the script and you go and check it out if you’re interested.
Here are the examples for the correct way to use few and a few:
Although the question was easy, few boys were able to answer it.
Although the question was difficult, a few boys were able to answer it.
And they say few means not many and emphasizes the smallness of the number and a few means at least some.
A simple way of thinking about it might be to think that few is negative but a few is positive.
A few more examples:
I invited a lot of people to the party, but few people came.
I didn’t think anyone was going to come to the party but a few people actually came.
Little and a little work in the same way.
Here are a few examples I got from better-english.com.
You won't change her mind so there is little use in trying.
I need a little help. I'm a bit stuck.
I have a couple of sites to tell you about today.
They are both sites where you can type in a word and press a button – or click on something - and the word will be pronounced.
I think it’s called text to speech software or speech synthesis.
It’s not as good as an actual human of course - but it can be useful I think, sometimes, if you want to do something like check where the stress is on a word.
This site has an American female voice and this one has a British male voice.
There are other similar sites out there too, so if you know of one that you think is good please let me know so I can add it to the list.
Kia Ora, in Stick News today some local governments in Japan are urging convenience stores to close during late night hours in an effort save energy.
conversations with sarah
Really? Why not?
It’s hard to remember the difference between few and a few.
You know, I don’t usually use the word few.
Really? Why not?
I don’t know. But I usually say not many.
So you wouldn’t say few people came to the party.
ってことは"few people came to the party"って言わないんだ。
No. I’d say: Not many people came to the party. Not many, if any.
言わないね。 私だったら"Not many people came to the party"って言うかも。 "Not many, if any...."
Oh, it’s just a song.
Do you use a few?
Yeah, I use that a lot. Sometimes as a euphemism. Like, I had a few drinks last night, sometimes means: I had lot of drinks.
うん、よく使うよ。 婉曲として使うときもある。 例えば、"I had a few drinks last night"と言うけど実は昨日たくさん飲んだかも知れない。
Show 767 Wednesday 18 June
The Daily English Show