(a) Little + Comparatives

ENGLISHIAN

Member
Korean
Hi. Always thank you!
This time my curiosity is about (a) little + comparatives.

(1) The new model is little faster than the old one. (Practical Enlgish Usage, Oxford)

Which is your choice of the proper understanding of the sentence above.
(1a) The new model is slightly faster than the old one.
(1b) The new model is nearly as slow as the old one.
(1c) According to some context, both are possible.

(2) The new model is a little faster than the old one.
I think this sentence means only (1a), right?

If it's (1c), can you decide which one is the meaming of the sentence below, (3), slightly more or not much more? Do we need more context?

(3) As a new recruit on the St. Louis police force, Henry encountered little more danger than was to be expected in his line of work. (Hacker TEPS Practical 1200 questions, p149 #38)

Please help!
 
  • _Natalie_

    Member
    English - Australia
    1. To me, "The new model is little faster than the old one" means that the two models are so close to being exactly the same in speed that there is really no point in distinguishing between the two. So I wouldn't pick a, b or c because even "slightly faster" sounds like one model is too much faster than the other.

    2. I agree with you here. Definitely 1a

    3. This sentence to me means he encountered exactly what was expected of him, not more. The 'little more danger' is just a way of emphasising this fact.

    I'm happy to readjust my thinking though depending on what others say though.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'd say that (1c) sounds like a reasonable answer, Englishian. I agree that most people are likely to choose the positive meaning of (1a) when they use sentence (2).

    I'd interpret (3) to mean "slightly more" although "not much more" really means the same thing. Perhaps you are cutting the meaning of these variations too fine. If somebody wants to say something negative or disparaging about the new model, saying that it is "slightly faster" or "nearly as slow" as the old one are both possible. "Slightly faster" sounds a little more positive than "nearly as slow" does, but to me that difference is very small.
     

    MarFish

    Senior Member
    English - American
    I would agree that this sentence only means 1a even though the sentence also implies 1b. However, since we are focusing on how fast the models are and not how slow, I would just choose 1a.
     

    entangledbank

    Senior Member
    English - South-East England
    The difference between 'little' and 'a little' is not in the quantity, but in whether it's perceived as positive or negative (which isn't the same as good or bad). 'Little' is negative, a decrease or absence:

    It is little faster than the other one. Oh, that's bad, we wanted it to go faster.
    There is little danger in this job. That's good, there's not much danger.

    'A little' views the quantity positively, as an increase or presence:

    It is a little faster than the other one. That's good, we're making some progress.
    There is a little danger in this job. That's bad - there's some danger (even if it's not much)!
     

    ENGLISHIAN

    Member
    Korean
    I'd say that (1c) sounds like a reasonable answer, Englishian. I agree that most people are likely to choose the positive meaning of (1a) when they use sentence (2).

    I'd interpret (3) to mean "slightly more" although "not much more" really means the same thing. Perhaps you are cutting the meaning of these variations too fine. If somebody wants to say something negative or disparaging about the new model, saying that it is "slightly faster" or "nearly as slow" as the old one are both possible. "Slightly faster" sounds a little more positive than "nearly as slow" does, but to me that difference is very small.
    Thanks, Natalie. You mean "slightly faster" sounds like one model is too much faster than the other (compared with "little faster"), I think.
     

    ENGLISHIAN

    Member
    Korean
    I'd say that (1c) sounds like a reasonable answer, Englishian. I agree that most people are likely to choose the positive meaning of (1a) when they use sentence (2).

    I'd interpret (3) to mean "slightly more" although "not much more" really means the same thing. Perhaps you are cutting the meaning of these variations too fine. If somebody wants to say something negative or disparaging about the new model, saying that it is "slightly faster" or "nearly as slow" as the old one are both possible. "Slightly faster" sounds a little more positive than "nearly as slow" does, but to me that difference is very small.
    You think "little + comparatives" can be some positive though that difference is very small. Thank you, owlman5.
     

    ENGLISHIAN

    Member
    Korean
    I would agree that this sentence only means 1a even though the sentence also implies 1b. However, since we are focusing on how fast the models are and not how slow, I would just choose 1a.
    Thanks, MarFish. 1a despite its implication!
     

    ENGLISHIAN

    Member
    Korean
    The difference between 'little' and 'a little' is not in the quantity, but in whether it's perceived as positive or negative (which isn't the same as good or bad). 'Little' is negative, a decrease or absence:

    It is little faster than the other one. Oh, that's bad, we wanted it to go faster.
    There is little danger in this job. That's good, there's not much danger.

    'A little' views the quantity positively, as an increase or presence:

    It is a little faster than the other one. That's good, we're making some progress.
    There is a little danger in this job. That's bad - there's some danger (even if it's not much)!
    Sometimes, I feel some positive with "little" like in the sentence (3), not "a little". That's my problem. Thanks entangledbank.
     
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