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- A small number of; more than two.
- After a dismal few months my life at long last changed for the better.
- 1909, Archibald Marshall [pseudonym; Arthur Hammond Marshall], chapter II, in The Squire’s Daughter, New York, N.Y.: Dodd, Mead and Company, published 1919, →OCLC:
- "I don't want to spoil any comparison you are going to make," said Jim, "but I was at Winchester and New College." ¶ "That will do," said Mackenzie. "I was dragged up at the workhouse school till I was twelve. Then I ran away and sold papers in the streets, and anything else that I could pick up a few coppers by—except steal. […]"
a small number of
- A small number of things.
- Regrets, I've had a few, but then again too few to mention.
- Did everyone go home? --No, a few (of them) are still chatting.
A few and few without a differ in emphasis. Few emphasizes that the number is not as large as expected, while a few emphasizes the fact that the number, while small, is not zero but more than two.
- I was expecting lots of people at the party, but few turned up.
- I wasn't expecting any young people at the party, but a few turned up.
Note that when a few is preceded by another determiner, a is dropped. The few and every few mean “the group of a few” and “every group of a few” respectively.
a small number of things