28.4 pouco little / few / some

Pouco / pouca (in singular) refers to a small quantity of something, poucos / poucas refers to small number of elements. That means that in Portuguese we need only one adjective, whereas in English we need two. If we use pouco in plural it is obvious that we refer to several elements.

amount: pouco singular: Tenho pouco dinheiro. => I have little money.
number of elements: pouco en plural: Poucas pessoas fazem o que é melhor para elas. <=> Few people do what is in their best interest.

On the other side the English little can describe a small amount of something or a small size.

small amount: Querem muita liberdade e pouca responsabilidade. <=> They want a lot of freedom and little responsibility.
small size: Carmo da Mata é uma cidade pequenha em Minas Gerais. <=> Carmo da Mata is a little town in Minas Gerais.

summary:

pouco / pouca: describes a small amount of something and is translated with little
poucos / poucas: describes a small number of something and is translated with few

little: describes a small amount of something and is translated with pouco / pouca
little: describes a small size of something and is translated with pequenho / pequenha

Pouco can be used as an adjective (pouco dinheiro = little money) and as a pronoun (Little can be done = Pouco se pode fazer).

pouco little in the sense of a small amount
Pouco dinheiro não é razão para deixar de investir.
Little money is no reason for not investing.
Minha lavadora está utilizando pouca água para a lavagem.
My washing machine consumes little water in the washing process.
pouco few in the sense of a small number of elements
Há escolas com poucos alunos.
There are schools with only few students.
Ela é uma das poucas pessoas que respeito.
He is one of the few persons I respect.

Pouco follows the same scheme as muito, tanto, todo. In plural, poucos or poucas refer to a small number of elements. In singular, pouco or pouca refer to a small amount. It can be used as an adjective or a pronoun. In both cases it has to agree in gender and number with the noun it refers to or, in case of pronoun, with the noun it stands for. With the article o it can be substantivated (The little he knows. <=> O pouco que sabe).

Furthermore pouco can be used as an adverb: Escreve pouco. <=> He writes little.

A little bit of / some can be translated with um pouco de.

Temos ainda um pouco de vinho.
We still have some wine.


poucos (maskuline, plural) / poucas (feminine, plural) noun
Coisas pouco importantes e que poucos sabem.
Irrelevant things known only by few people.
Muitas são as pessoas que passam pela nossa vida, poucas são aquelas que acabam por ficar.
We meet a lot of people during lifetime, but only few of them remain.
pouco (maskuline, singular) / pouca (feminine, singular) noun
Pouco se sabe sobre a sua história até ao século XVII.
Little is noun about its history until the 17th century.
Pouca tem sido a atenção dada aos efeitos psicológicos.
Only little attention was paid to the psychological effects.
Posso fazer pouco por vocês.
I can only do it for you.


poucos (maskuline, plural) / poucos (feminine, plural) adjective
Ele é um dos poucos amigos que ainda tenho memórias.
He is one of the few friends I still can remember.
Poucas vezes se assistiu a um espectáculo tão mesquinho e tão nacionalista.
Very few times such a miserable and nationalistic spectacle have been seen.
Poucas pessoas me conhecem de verdade.
Only few people know me well.
Só nos conhecêmos há poucas semanas.
We only knew us since a few weeks.
Devo ser um dos poucos homens desta cidade que não quer ser rei.
I suppose that I am one of the few people in town who won't be a king.
pouco (maskuline, plural) / pouca (feminine, plural) adjective
Eu não sabia então que ele tinha sempre pouco dinheiro.
I didn't know that he had so little money.
Existem demasiados produtos de pouca qualidade no mercado.
There are too many products of low quality in the market.


adverbe
Salvamos vidas humanas e pouco depois morrem na mesma.
We save human lives and soon after they die anyway.
Ele recebeu uma chamada pouco antes do acidente.
Shortly before his dead he got a phone call.

Substantivated, the little, is mostly specified by a relative clause.

o pouco the little
É impressionante o pouco que fez.
It is impressing how little he has done.
Estou espantada com o pouco que isso me interessa.
It frightens me how little I care about.
Se não páras perderemos o pouco que temos.
If you don't stop we will lose the little we have.


The comparative of pouco is not formed with the scheme mais + adjective, see 21. The comparative of pouco is menos.

menos less
Haverá mais trabalho e menos dinheiro.
There will be more work and less money.
Produziremos mais alimentos com menos água.
We will produce more food with less water.


The superlative is formed with the scheme article + menos + adjective.

article + noun + menos superlative
As regiões menos produtivas serão as primeiras a ser abandonadas.
The less productive regions will be the first to be abandoned.
Este é o procedimento mais simples, menos burocrático e mais democrático.
It is the most simple, the less bureaucratic and the most democratic procedure.






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