Doing exercises to improve my English and this is the following question:

  1. How many friends do you have?

A - Just a little

B - A few

C - Much

D - Lot

The exercise doesn't have any other especification about, so I presume that wants me to mark the most correct option.

I'm thinking about marking A. Letter D doesn't look like correct, nor C, and letter B appears to be missing the rest of context in this sentence. Am I right about going with A?

  • 2
    I suggest you work on the difference between mass nouns and count nouns. That will give you the answer. – Robusto Oct 23 '17 at 20:14

The correct answer is B, because "friends" is a countable quantity. "Just a little" and "much" can only be used with non-countable quantities. For example:

How much soup do you have left over?

Just a little.

However, some quantity nouns in some contexts require the indefinite article, which is why D is wrong. "A lot" can be used for both countable and non-countable quantities:

I have a lot of friends.

I have a lot of soup.

But can't be used without the indefinite article:

"How many friends do you have?"


is not grammatical English. "Few" has different implications depending on whether you use the indefinite article, but here it's required. "Few" alone would be wrong. So in short, B is the only correct response.


English has two types of nouns, countable nouns (also called "count nouns") and mass nouns (also called "non-count" or "uncountable").

(Many mass nouns can also be used as countable nouns in certain cases.)

Countable nouns take the determiners "many" and "few". Mass nouns take the deerminers "much" and "(a) little". "A lot of" works with both types. So does "some".

Countable nouns can be singular or plural - for example, "boy", "girl", "man", "woman", "computer", "book", "horse".

Mass nouns are always grammatically singular - for example, "mud", "dirt", "honour", "grace", "dignity", "joy". They don't form plurals.

With a countable noun, a question such as "How many men are present?" could lead to an answer such as "many", "a lot", "a few", "not many".

With a mass noun, a question such as "How much aluminium will we need?" could lead to an answer such as "a lot" or "a little" or "not much". ("Much" is a less likely response because "much" is a polarity word that occurs primarily in either negative or interrogative phrases - though there are some idiomatic exceptions.)

The form of the question also tells you the possible responses. If the question asks "How many" then it must be asking about a countable noun, and if it asks "How much" then it must be asking about a mass noun.

Countable nouns can be counted - so "how many" can lead to a response such as "one" or "four".

Mass nouns can only be measured, so "how much" can lead to a response such as "ten metres", "ten litres", "a handful" or "a spoonful".

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