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How to use quantifiers too, too much, too many, enough, a little, a few in English language

There are many quantifiers in English language but these are the most commonly used: too, too much, too many, enough, a little, little, few, and a few.

Too, too much, too many, too few, too little

As a general rule, too, too much, too many, too little, and too few are used to indicate that there is an excessive amount/number of something, or, conversely, an insufficient amount/number of something – always creating a negative context.

I am too tied; I don’t want to go out.
I am bored. I have too much free time.
I eat too many cakes.
I always seem to have too little time.
My boss is always giving me too many tasks to do.


"Enough" means “all that is necessary”, a sufficient amount or number of something, and it can be used in two positions in a phrase: (1) before a noun and (2) after an adjective.

I don’t eat enough vegetables.
The room is big enough for me.

A little, a few

If you want to talk about small quantities/numbers of something, then "a little" and "a few" are the right words to use. Their meaning is the same as "some". If you use them together with the word "very", the amount/number of something becomes much smaller.

Use "a little/ very little" with uncountable nouns.
Use "a few/ very few" with countable plural nouns.

I eat a little meat. (I eat some meat, not a great quantity.)
I drink very little coffee. (I drink very small amount coffee.)
Can you buy a few beers for me, please? (Can you buy some beers for me, please? 3-4 beers, not more; but it all depends on the speaker’s viewpoint: someone might consider 5-7 “a few beers”.)
I studied Vietnamese very few hours.

Few and little

Use "little" with uncountable nouns.
Use "few" with countable plural nouns.

These quantifiers indicate that the amount or number of something is almost zero and they always indicate that the situation the speaker is referring to is unpleasant, not something he or she would like to be in.


A: Could you lend me some money, please?
B: Well, I have a little money, so I can let you borrow £20.00.
A: Could you lend me some money, please?
B: Well, I’ve got little money myself, so I can’t, sorry!

Situation 2 – A FEW vs. FEW
A: What do you do in your free time?
B: Well, I’ve got a few good friends, so my social life is quite active.
A: What do you do in your free time?
B: Well, I know few people here, so my social life’s almost non-existing.

Looking at the examples, you can see that "a little" and "a few" are used in a much more positive context, while the use of "little" and "few" makes the context much darker.

Additional note:
The meaning of "few" and "little" can be made even stronger by using them together with the word "very".

I’ve got very little money.
I know very few people here.

"Scarcely any" or "hardly any" can be used instead of "few" and "little".

I’ve got scarcely/hardly any money.
I know scarcely/hardly any people here.

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