and if you add a different word and make it "he has few cactus friends" holy crap it's way different now
letters as well ''She has few cactus friends''
How are those completely different meanings?
"he has a few friends" seems like only having a few friends is his preference. "he has few friends" makes it seem like nobody likes him.
but saying "he has few friends" means he DOES have friends but few of them
and saying "he has a few friends" means he has friends but only a few of them
they both literally mean the same thing, yeah, but you typically hear each in the above contexts.
I disagree, hearing 'he has a few friends' doesn't sound anything like he carefully chooses his friend. Maybe if you said 'close friends', but otherwise I'm not seeing your meaning here. I'll agree the last one sounds a tad harsher, but really saying they have completely different meanings seems like an exaggeration.
What fvvkes said. Few friends sounds like no one likes you, a few friends makes it sound like you chose to have few friends. Few friends sounds kind of meaner too.
I always thought of it as "he has a few friends" meaning that he has an adequate amount of friends, but "he has few friends" meaning that he has a remarkably little amount of friends.