Category Archives: Blog

few fewer less English determiners

This post looks at the differences between English determiners such as  few, fewer, fewest, little, less, least. It is a common problem for many English language learners and even native speakers can confuse them whilst speaking.


= not many

We use FEW and A FEW with countable nouns (nouns we can count, one car, two cars etc)


Comparative and superlative: few, fewer, fewest

Few has a slightly negative meaning – not many, not as much as we thought or wanted. It is also more formal than ‘not many’

‘The journey didn’t take long today. There were few cars on the road.’

Compare with, ‘There weren’t many cars on the road.’

‘He has few friends. He prefers to be on his own.’


= some

‘I am only inviting a few people to my party this year. Last year was crazy.’

‘We saw a few good films at the cinema last month.’

‘I want to have a few days off work next week. I need to visit my mother who is in hospital.’

We can also use ‘a few’ instead of a noun.

‘Would you like some of my chips? I can’t eat all of them.’  ‘Thanks, I’ll have a few.’


= not as many

‘Fewer people smoke today than twenty years ago.’

‘Shops are selling fewer newspapers these days because a lot of people read the news online.’


= the smallest number

‘Browntree University has the fewest applicants in the country.’


= a small amount

Little and a little are used with uncountable nouns, for example: water, information, air, time.

Comparative and superlative: little, less, least


Like ‘few’, little is used in a slightly negative way. There is not enough or not as much as expected.

‘The government said there was little information about the attack.’


‘Do you fancy a quick coffee?’ ‘I have a little time before my train. Yes, I’d love one, thanks.’


= not as much

‘Hurry up! We have less time than I thought. We need to be at the station in half an hour.’

‘In many companies, women still earn less than men.’

IMPORTANT: Many native speakers often use less with countable nouns when speaking. E.g. ‘There were less people there today’. However, in formal writing, it is important to try to use the correct form for countable and uncountable nouns.


= the lowest amount

‘Lincoln is the least expensive city for university students.’


This is not used as a determiner but is used as an adjective.

‘A lesser woman (one who is not as strong or brave) might have stopped by now.’

few fewer less The English Tower

Thank you for reading this post on English determiners such as few fewer. Why not try..

Comparatives and Superlatives: Learn English Grammar

Stephen Hawking British Physicist

Stephen Hawking (1942 – 2018) was a British physicist*. He was born in Oxford, England on the 8th January 1942, 300 years after the death of Italian astronomer* and engineer* Galileo Galilei. Stephen grew up in the town of St. Albans about twenty miles outside London. He went to a local* school and afterwards to University College, Oxford. Both of Stephen’s parents had studied at Oxford University. He wanted to study Mathematics but that was not possible so he chose to study physics instead. He was an active young man who enjoyed* dancing and rowing.

After he finished his degree, Hawking went to Trinity Hall at Cambridge University to study cosmology*. Whilst he was at Oxford university, Hawking began to have some problems with his health. Sometimes he would fall over or have trouble with his speech. However, it was at Cambridge, where he went to study for a PhD, that his health problems became more obvious*.

Stephen Hawking British Physicist The English Tower

Continue reading Stephen Hawking British Physicist

Past continuous Learn English

This post looks at the past continuous and asks;

What is the past continuous?

When is the past continuous used?

At the end are 5 advanced-level uses of the past continuous for more confident learners.

 The past continuous uses the past of the verb ‘be’ and the infinitive + ‘ing’

 Subject         was/were     infinitive + ‘ing’  

I                       was                 playing           tennis

You                 were                playing           tennis

He/she/it         was                 playing           tennis

We/they         were                playing           tennis

  Continue reading Past continuous Learn English

Infinitive With To Learn English Grammar

This post looks at using the English infinitive with to. It is used after certain adjectives and verbs.


  1. The first to do something.

He was the first to arrive at the party.

  1. The next to do something.

Sam was the next to arrive.

  1. The last to do something.

Tom and Mary were the last to arrive.


We can also put a noun before the infinitive if we are talking about sequencing (putting something into numerical order e.g. first, second, third etc)


Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon.

Will the last person to leave the room, please turn off the lights?

They were the second team to enter the competition.

  1. We use infinitive with to after want and would like.


I want to see that new French film that is on at the cinema.

Would you like to come with me?


I would like to book a table for four at seven o’clock, please.


Jack had to leave work early today because he had a doctor’s appointment.


  1. After some question words.


I don’t know where to go on holiday this year.

She wanted to know how to get to the station.

When he offered me the job, I didn’t know what to say.

The kids can be so noisy. They never know when to stop.


  1. After certain verbs (usually verbs of thinking and feeling. Below is a table of some of the most common verbs).


Agree Do you agree to help us?
Arrange I want to arrange a meeting to discuss the new computer system.
Decide I have decided to take the job in New York.
Expect I expected to meet the manager today but he’s ill.
Forget Don’t forget to feed my cat whilst I’m on holiday.
Hope I hope to see you again very soon.
Intend She intends to start her own company.
Learn Peter had always wanted to learn to play the piano.
Like John likes to sing in the shower.
Love We love to go on walking holidays in the mountains.
Manage I managed to finish the work before my boss returned.
Plan We plan to visit my parents at the weekend.
Prefer I prefer to play tennis.
Promise I promise to visit again soon.
Refuse I refuse to listen to your lies.
Remember Could you remember to close the door when you leave?
Tend She tends to talk too much because she’s nervous.
Try Can you try to be more quiet, please. I’m trying to work.


  1. After adjectives


I’m pleased to meet you.

She was sad to see him go.

They were excited to be in the Olympic team.

I would love to eat some chocolate but I’m on a diet at the moment.


  1. Verb + object + to infinitive


I need you to look after the kids while I go the doctor.

We took my parents to see the new Star Wars film.

He wants you to help him paint the kitchen.

Traditionally, grammar experts said you must not split the infinitive. This means to put a word between ‘to’ and the ‘verb’ as in Star Trek’s famous line, ‘To boldly go..’  Strict rules say it should read ‘To go boldly..’  Although, in everyday English, speakers often split the infinitive. It might be a good idea to avoid doing this in formal writing, however.

Further reading:

The Gerund: Learn English Grammar

It and there Learn English Grammar



React reply respond and return

React, reply, respond and return.


This post looks at four words that often confuse learners; react, reply, respond and return. They can be confusing because some of them can be used interchangeably although they have their own separate meaning and are not quite synonyms.



  1. To say something, do something or feel something because of something someone has said or done

Our manager didn’t react when we all said we were unhappy with his management style.

She reacted with a smile.


  1. To become ill because you had eaten something bad or done something to your body in some way.

I think that fish we had for dinner has reacted with me. I feel really sick.

My skin reacts badly to make-up.


3. In science, a substance reacts with another substance.

The hydrogen reacted with the oxygen to form water.



To answer.

Have you replied to the manager’s email?

I knocked on the door but there was no reply.

‘I don’t know,’ he replied.


The noun form of reply is ‘a reply’.

Have you had any replies?



  1. To say or do something as an answer or reaction to something that someone has done or said.

The police responded to the call within ten minutes.

I tried calling your mobile five times today but you didn’t respond. Are you ignoring me?

The school asked parents to help with Sports’ Day. Unfortunately, only a few parents responded.

He responded very badly to the news.

Her manager would not respond when she asked him for extra holiday.


  1. To improve after medical treatment.

We were really worried about her at first, but she is starting to respond to treatment. She should be much better in a few days.


The noun form of respond is a response.

I have left five messages on your phone today but I haven’t had a single response. Are you ignoring me?

We called the police and their response was very quick. They arrived within ten minutes.

When she asked her manager for extra holiday, he would not give her a response.

We asked for help building a new children’s playground and we got a huge response. We had over one hundred and fifty replies from parents.



  1. Go back.

They like to return to the same hotel every year.

I need to return to the office because I left my purse on my desk. I’ll need it to pay for the tickets.

He returned home after midnight.


  1. Send or give something back.

Library books must be returned within three weeks.

My neighbour still hasn’t returned my DVD’s. He borrowed them six months ago!


  1. React to something someone does or says by doing the same thing.

Good morning, could I speak to Phil please. It’s Sarah, from the sales department, returning his call.

He called her name and smiled at her. She looked up and, pleased to see him, she returned his smile.

Thank you for reading this post on react, reply, respond and return. Why not try…

logo png file





Helping you to learn English

It and there Learn English Grammar

It and there


The sentences below use the pronouns SHE/HE/THEY. However, we often use it and there as pronouns. This post looks at the different uses of it and there.

My mother lives in Spain now because SHE is retired and she wanted to live in a hot country.

My dog is ten this year.  HE was born on Christmas day.

My children are taking me to my favourite Italian restaurant today and  THEY have booked a table for 8 o’clock.

In English, a clause usually needs a subject or a pronoun instead of the subject. The only time we do not use a pronoun or noun or it and there is when we use the ‘imperative’, for example;

Turn up the heating please.

Go away.

Tell me.  I need to know!

If we have no other subject, we use it or there.


Continue reading It and there Learn English Grammar