- fewW1S1 [fju:] determiner, pron, adj comparative fewer superlative fewest[: Old English; Origin: feawa]1.) [no comparative]a small number of things or peoplea few▪ I have to buy a few things at the supermarket.▪ Pam called to say she's going to be a few minutes late.▪ There were a few people sitting at the back of the hall.▪ There are a few more things I'd like to discuss.few of▪ I've read a few of her books.▪ I could suggest many different methods, but anyway, here are just a few .▪ There are only a very few (=not many) exceptions.the last/next few▪ The office has been closed for the last few days.every few days/weeks etc▪ The plants need to be watered every few days.the/sb's few days/weeks etc▪ She had enjoyed her few days in Monaco.2.) quite a few/a good few/not a fewa fairly large number of things or people▪ She must have cooked a good few dinners over the years.quite a few/a good few/not a few of▪ There were hundreds of protesters, not a few of whom were women.3.) not many or hardly any people or things≠ ↑many▪ low-paid jobs that few people want▪ Many people expressed concern, but few were willing to help.▪ The team that makes the fewest mistakes usually wins.few of▪ Very few of the staff come from the local area.▪ Mr Wingate was full of explanations, but precious few (=hardly any) of them made sense.the few▪ The cathedral was one of the few buildings not destroyed in the war.▪ This hospital is one of the few that are equipped to provide transplant surgery.sb's few belongings/friends etc▪ I gathered together my few possessions.4.) no fewer thanused to emphasize that a number is large▪ I tried to contact him no fewer than ten times.5.) as few as 5/10 etcused to emphasize how surprisingly small a number is▪ Sometimes as few as 20 out of 500 or more candidates succeed in passing all the tests.6.) to name/mention but a fewused when you are mentioning only a small number of people or things as examples of a large group▪ This is a feature of languages such as Arabic, Spanish and Portuguese, to name but a few.7.) the (privileged/chosen) fewthe small number of people who are treated better than others and have special advantages▪ Such information is made available only to the chosen few.▪ The needs of the many have been ignored -- instead, the priority has been to bring benefits only to the few.8.) be few and far betweento be rare▪ Jobs are few and far between at the moment.9.) have had a few (too many) informal to have drunk too much alcohol▪ He looks as if he's had a few!▬▬▬▬▬▬▬WORD CHOICE: a few, few, a little, little, a bit, fewer, lessa few and few are used before plural nouns.a few means 'a small number' : It will take a few minutes. | I've got a few friends who live nearby.few means 'not many'. It emphasizes how small the number is. It is mainly used in writing or formal speech : Few people would deny her talent. |He has few interests outside his work.In spoken English or informal writing it is more usual to say not many : Not many people saw what happened.a little and little are used before uncountable nouns.a little means 'some, but not a lot' : We still have a little time left.In spoken British English, it is more usual to say a bit : 'Are you tired?' 'A bit.' |I've got a bit of money left.little means 'not much'. It emphasizes how small the amount is. It is mainly used in writing or formal speech : There is now little hope of success.In spoken English or informal writing it is more usual to say not much : There was not much milk left.The comparative of few is fewer : Few people have read the book, and even fewer understand it.The comparative of little is less : We know little about his adult life, and less about his childhood.!! Sometimes people use less before a plural noun, but many people think that this is incorrect, so it is better to use fewer : a village of fewer (NOT less) than 200 inhabitants▬▬▬▬▬▬▬
Dictionary of contemporary English. 2013.