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The correct use of some Adjectives

Little, a little, the little

Few, a few, the few

Sample Usage

Little, a little, the little

Little: hardly any, practically nil. It has a negative meaning.
Deepak has little (practically no) chance of being elected. He has little (hardly any) chance of promotion. There is little (practically no) hope of his success.

A little: some, but not much. It has a positive meaning.
There is a little hope of his success.
We have still a little money left in the bank.
With a little patience, we can bring him round.

The little: the small quantity available.
This phrase cannot stand alone and must be followed by an Adjectival clause or phrase defining what exactly it refers to:
I shall give him the little money I possess.
In the little time at my disposal I can't do justice to the subject.
From the little I know about him, he appears to be a trouble maker.

Few, a few, the few

Few: hardly any, practically none. It has a negative significance:

Few people (practically none) can hope to achieve perfection.
I have seen few people (hardly any) who can keep a secret.
Few adults (hardly any) believe in fairies and elves these days.

A few: a small number, not many. It has a positive meaning.
I have a few friends in the United States.
On a few occasions I managed to win.
Only a few days are left for the reopening of the college.

The few: the small number. The phrase must be followed by an Adjectival phrase or clause to define its meaning:

I can pack the few things I need in this handbag.
The few men who turned up were dispersed by the police.
I gave him the few spare clothes I had.

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