"I've called you a few times, but you haven't picked up or called back."
Does "a few times" put emphasis on how few times something is or is it similar to "a couple of times" which just tells a number?
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No, "a few times" means several times, but not many. If you said it without the article "a", it would put emphasis on it being a small number of times:
"I've called you few times."
That is, not many times at all. That can be intensified as "very few".
Here's another example:
"I have a few reasons to go to the store today."
That means that I have some reasons to go, and am considering doing it.
"I have few reasons to go to the store today."
That means that I don't have many reasons, and I am considering not going.