(a) little more than a child?

High on grammar

Senior Member
Farsi
Hello everyone:



Three members of the family are acquitted, one member happens to be a little more than a child.

Source: Google books

Shouldn't “a little more than a child” in the sentence above be “little more than a child?”

According to A practical English Grammar by A.J. Thomas and A.V. Martinet, LITTLE is used chiefly with BETTER and MORE in fairly formal style:

Example:
He was little more than a child when his father died.

Thanks.
 
  • Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It is a mistake. You are correct in thinking that this adjectival phrase is 'little more than a child'.

    'He was orphaned and had to look after himself when he was little more than a child.'
     

    Florentia52

    Modwoman in the attic
    English - United States
    Thank you for the link, but that takes us only to the results of a Google search. Please provide the context for your sentence, as well as the title and author of the article. Without that information, it's impossible to say whether this is a mistake (made, for example, by a non-native speaker), or whether it might be correct in context.
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The source is the literary magazine of a public school in India. The writers are Indian (not native speakers or native speakers of Indian English) and under 18 years of age. Some "non-standard" usage, typos, etc are to be expected.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    The source is the literary magazine of a public school in India. The writers are Indian (not native speakers or native speakers of Indian English) and under 18 years of age. Some "non-standard" usage, typos, etc are to be expected.
    Thank you all.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    A second example given by the grammar book is this: "His second suggestion was little better than his first."

    My question is: would it be wrong to use "a little" instead of "little" here and say: "His second suggestion was a little better than his first?"

    Thanks again.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    It is neither wrong nor right: little and a little give different meanings to the sentence.


    "His second suggestion was little better than his first." -> "His second suggestion was hardly any better than his first." / "His second suggestion was about as bad as his first."
    "His second suggestion was a little better than his first." -> "His second suggestion was a slight improvement on his first."
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    It is neither wrong nor right: little and a little give different meanings to the sentence.


    "His second suggestion was little better than his first." -> "His second suggestion was hardly any better than his first." / "His second suggestion was about as bad as his first."
    "His second suggestion was a little better than his first." -> "His second suggestion was a slight improvement on his first."
    Hi, PaulQ:

    How different is " Three members of the family are acquitted, one member happens to be a little more than a child" in my original post from " "His second suggestion was little better than his first." I mean, why would "a little" be wrong in my original post but correct in this one?
    Thanks
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Three members of the family are acquitted, one member happens to be a little more than a child." -> one member says he is a child, but I don't believe him, he is obviously too old to be a child.
    "Three members of the family are acquitted, one member happens to be little more than a child." -> one member is very young indeed, he is perhaps only 12 or 13 years old. / one member is very young indeed, he is a child.
     

    High on grammar

    Senior Member
    Farsi
    "Three members of the family are acquitted, one member happens to be a little more than a child." -> one member says he is a child, but I don't believe him, he is obviously too old to be a child.
    "Three members of the family are acquitted, one member happens to be little more than a child." -> one member is very young indeed, he is perhaps only 12 or 13 years old. / one member is very young indeed, he is a child.

    PaulQ:

    So you disagree with those who said that "Three members of the family are acquitted, one member happens to be a little more than a child" is wrong, that it should be " "Three members of the family are acquitted, one member happens to be little more than a child."

    Thanks again
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    (Can I just point out that the comma should be either a period or a semi-colon in your example?)

    It depends on what you intend to communicate, High on grammar. "A little more than a child" means something different from "little more than a child". What is the person trying to express? Is the family member a teenager or young adult, or is he hardly older than a child? The small quote we can see of the text is confusing. Why would it be significant that a young family member was acquitted? It would be significant if he were convicted.

    I think more than one person has explained that it is not a question of right or wrong but of intended meaning.
     
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