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Couple vs. Few: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 25, 2024
A couple generally refers to two or a pair, whereas few signifies a small number, typically more than two but not many.

Key Differences

A couple is often used to denote exactly two items or individuals, whereas few indicates a small, indefinite number, usually more than two but less than several.
In usage, couple is more specific, often implying a pair of things or people closely associated, while few is vaguer, indicating a small quantity without exactness.
The term couple can also imply a romantic partnership, whereas few carries no such connotation and strictly refers to quantity.
When precision is needed, couple is used to specify two, but few is used to suggest a small, indeterminate amount, providing less precision.
In colloquial language, couple may sometimes be used loosely to mean a small number, but few is never used to specify exactly two.

Comparison Chart

Number Specificity

Refers specifically to two.
Refers to a small number, more than two.

Usage Precision

More precise, indicating exactly two.
Less precise, indicating a small group.


Can imply a romantic partnership.
No romantic connotation, just quantity.


Less often used indefinitely.
Often used to indicate an indefinite amount.

Colloquial Variation

Sometimes used loosely for a small number.
Always refers to more than two.

Couple and Few Definitions


Two items or people together.
A couple of friends came over.


A small number of items or people.
A few students remained after class.


A small number, informally.
Just a couple more minutes.


Not many, but more than one.
She read a few pages of the book.


Two of the same kind.
I need a couple of batteries.


A small, indefinite amount.
Only a few know the truth.


A pair forming a unit.
She bought a couple of tickets.


A handful, not many.
He had a few friends over.


A romantic partnership.
The couple celebrated their anniversary.


Some, but not a large number.
Few opportunities arise like this.


Two items of the same kind; a pair.


Amounting to or consisting of a small number
One of my few bad habits. See Usage Note at less.


Something that joins or connects two things together; a link.


Does couple always mean two?

Typically, but it can be used loosely for a small number.

Is couple used in formal writing?

It's used, but with precise meaning for two.

Can few mean only two?

No, few typically implies more than two.

Are few and several the same?

No, few is less than several.

Can couple be used for groups?

Informally, but it usually means two.

Does few have a specific number?

No, few is indefinite but suggests a small quantity.

Is few ever used for pairs?

Few generally implies more than two.

Is couple only for romantic pairs?

Not always, it can refer to any pair.

Can few refer to a large number?

No, few indicates a small number.

Is couple formal or informal?

It can be both, but more precise in formal contexts.

Can couple mean several?

In informal use, sometimes, but it's not precise.

Is few a vague term?

Yes, it's intentionally indefinite.

Is couple a noun or verb?

It's primarily a noun, but can be used as a verb.

Can couple refer to similar items?

Yes, it can refer to two similar items.

Can couple refer to non-romantic pairs?

Yes, it can refer to any two items or individuals.

Does few always imply scarcity?

Often, but context matters.

Can few be used quantitatively?

Yes, but without exact numbers.

Does few have a negative connotation?

It can, suggesting not as many as hoped for.

Is few used in mathematics?

Rarely, as it lacks numerical precision.

Can couple and few be interchangeable?

In informal contexts, sometimes, but not precisely.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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