Q: What is the difference between "few" and "a few"?

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Presently, I am preparing a review article. While reading other articles, I have found some sentences reflecting research gaps. For example: ‘Few reports have been published’ vs ‘A few reports have been published’. So, what is the difference in meaning? Thanks a lot in advance.

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Answer:

Both the terms "few" and a few" technically refer to more than one, so some people use them interchangeably, assuming they mean the same, but that is not correct. ‘A few’ means ‘some’, whereas ‘few’ means ‘not a lot of’. In the examples you have provided, ‘A few reports have been published’ means that ‘Some reports have been published’, whereas ‘Few reports have been published’ means that ‘Not many reports have been published’. As you can see, ‘few’ usually has a negative connotation, while 'a few' usually has a apositive connotation. 

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