How many apples do you have in that box ?


  1. I have few apples in this box.

  2. I have a few apple in this box.

  3. I have the few apples in this box.

What is the difference and which is appropriate answer to the question ?


(3) is wrong. You cannot use the definite article, 'the', for an undefined quantity of things.

(2) shows the number of apples is small. It is probably more than two, because with two, people could see that and prefer to say 'a couple of apples'. There is no actual limit, but if the number of apples was more than about five, I might choose another word instead of 'few'.

(1) shows that 'few' is more of a subjective judgement by the speaker, that they think the number they have is small, rather than a description of the actual number. For example, a multi-millionaire might reasonably say, "I own a few golf courses," while almost everyone else on the planet would think that is a lot of golf courses for anyone to own. ;)

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