Using poco and po' to express small amounts

Poco means “(a) little” or “few” and is the opposite of molto/tanto (a lot, much, many).

Ho poco zucchero in dispensa.

I have little sugar in the pantry / I don't have much sugar in the pantry.

Mi rimane poco tempo per prepararmi.

I have little time left to prepare.

When it comes before a noun, it has to agree with the latter in both gender and number.

Ho poche amiche italiane.

I don't have many (female) Italian friends.

C'è poca acqua nella bottiglia.

There's little water in the bottle.

When it replaces a noun, it has to agree with the noun it replaces in both gender and number.

Eravamo poche alla festa. (= poche persone)

There were few of us at the party. (= few people)

C'era poco da mangiare. (= poco cibo)

There was little to eat. (= little food)

When it comes after a verb, it always takes the masculine singular form poco.

Leggo poco alla sera.

I read little in the evenings / I don't read much in the evenings.

Hai bevuto poco in palestra.

You didn't drink much at the gym.

When it follows un (a) or quel (what) it generally becomes un/quel po', meaning an unspecified small amount. It is also often followed by the preposition di.

Rimane un po' di insalata.

There's a little salad left.

Ha perso quel po' di soldi che aveva.

She lost what little money she had.

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