A little vs a little bit

theironist

Member
French
Hi guys,

I have a "silly" question to ask. When you use the expression "a little bit" ( a little bit of sugar, I just want a little bit of that, etc.), is "little" the adjective that defines the noun "bit" and does the "a" go with "bit" instead of "little"?Basically, "a little bit" = a bit that is little (literal meaning)?

When you use the expression "I need a little money", here the "a" goes with "little". It's "a little"+"money".

I don't know if what I'm saying makes any sense. It's just a technical grammatical question.

Thanks a lot for your help!

The ironist
 
  • velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    The question does make sense. (I just hope my answer will make sense too.)

    I need a little money = "I need a small amount of money." "A little" here is the opposite of "a lot of", money being a (usually) uncountable noun. We talk of "a little sugar", "a little bread" etc. with the same meaning.

    A "bit of bread" is a piece of bread. A "little bit of bread" is a small piece of bread. "Little" is the adjective modifying "bit", and the article "a" goes with "bit".

    cross-posted
     

    theironist

    Member
    French
    Thank you for your quick replies! Velisarius, your explanation was very clear. "A little while" is the same as "a little bit of bread" I guess? "Little" modifies "while" and the article "a" goes with "while?

    The ironist
     

    theironist

    Member
    French
    The question does make sense. (I just hope my answer will make sense too.)

    I need a little money = "I need a small amount of money." "A little" here is the opposite of "a lot of", money being a (usually) uncountable noun. We talk of "a little sugar", "a little bread" etc. with the same meaning.

    A "bit of bread" is a piece of bread. A "little bit of bread" is a small piece of bread. "Little" is the adjective modifying "bit", and the article "a" goes with "bit".

    cross-posted
    Velisarius, your explanation was very clear. "A little while" is the same as "a little bit of bread" I guess? "Little" modifies "while" and the article "a" goes with "while?

    The ironist
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    That's correct ironist - "a little while" is like "a little bit". "While" is classed as a countable noun.

    From our dictionary definition for little (adj.)
    short in length, duration, or extent;
    brief: Give me a little time.
     

    perpend

    Banned
    American English
    "a bit of sugar" makes the medicine go down.

    "little" is not needed in the construction.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    is 'little' used as an adjective only before countable nouns?
    No.
    Other examples:
    He drank a little wine. (A small amount of wine.)
    She speaks a little Farsi.
    Little love was lost between them.
    There is little hope of rescuing them.
     

    taraa

    Senior Member
    Persian
    No.
    Other examples:
    He drank a little wine. (A small amount of wine.)
    She speaks a little Farsi.
    Little love was lost between them.
    There is little hope of rescuing them.
    Many thanks!
    How can we know 'little' is an adjective or a determiner, please?
     
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