"a bit of a + noun" vs. "a bit of + noun"

hboo

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello,

I'm having a hard time using the phrases "a bit of a" and "a bit of". For example:
"The businessman has a bit of a problem with a client." - the definition of "a bit of a" in the dictionary is "used to suggest that something is not severe or extreme".

Now I wonder if I mean to say, for example:
"I just ate a small amount of chocolate" - is it correct to say: "I just ate a bit of a chocolate." or "I just ate a bit of chocolate."? Does the phrase "a bit of a +noun" mean nothing similar as "a bit of + noun"?

Thanks.
 
  • wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The key point here is the article 'a'. Sometimes it is present, sometimes not. It is what makes the difference.

    'A bit of a chocolate' means a piece of an individual sweet called a chocolate, such as you find in a box of chocolates. Imagine picking one chocolate out of the box and then biting part of it. You now have in your mouth 'a bit of a chocolate'.

    On the other hand, imagine holding a bar of chocolate and breaking one piece off it. This is 'a bit of chocolate'.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    It's hard to understand, hboo.

    Let's take yoghurt.

    I just ate a bit of yoghurt. = I just had a little yoghurt.
    I just ate a bit of a yoghurt. = I just ate a little bit from an individual yoghurt.

    Hmmm .... maybe that does not help so much.

    In general, "a bit of a" and "a bit of" do not mean the same thing. It really depends on what is involved, though.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The difference is due to the presence or absence of the second article 'a'.
    It is independent of the phrase 'a bit of'.
     
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