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.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top