a bit / a little

cissekou

New Member
French
Can anyone explain the difference to me in french in order to get it once and for all?
Thank you in advance.
 
  • orlando09

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Les deux signifient " un peu de" , mais on dit " a bit of" mais seulement " a little..." (pas "of"). " A bit of" est plus courant que " a little"
     

    Jean-Michel Carrère

    Senior Member
    French from France
    Am I right in thinking that "a bit of" can only be used with solids (a bit of bread / a bit of cheese) and that "a little" has to be used with liquids and semi-liquids (a little soup / a little water) ?
     

    orlando09

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    As a broad rule that sounds OK - literally, a "bit" often means a " small piece of", but it is not always used like that. It is actually possible to say in normal conversational English - " I'd like a bit of milk in my tea" etc (in the sens of " a small quantity of), but perhaps it is not strictly the best usage. I can imagine a recipe saying : add a little (small quantity of) grated cheese to the dish" , for example, but generally if it is something solid, " bit" does sound better - I'd like a bit of bread with cheese sounds right rather than "a little bread". Sorry if that is not helping you "understand it once and for all" ... sometimes you just have to get used to what sounds OK and what doesn't, by experience...
     

    batikha

    Senior Member
    English, Canada
    i agree with the above... i would say 'a bit' is better used in things that can be quantified
    'a little' can also be used in quantities (and often followed by 'a bit' eg there is a little bit of milk left over; a little laughter goes a long way) but but can be used more qualitatively too (eg he just needs a little push). In the last example, a push is not something that can really be measured, but here, we are indicating that it would be a subtle push and not a harsh one.
    If you compare laughter and push: one can say a little laughter or lots of laughter to indicate how much of it there is. If we were to say 'lots of push' (eg. There was lots of push and shove in the market) it would imply frequency and not a quantitative descrption of the single push. When we say 'he needed a little push to get going' it is more of a qualititative description of that push...
    i hope i havent added more confusion...
     
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