(A) little

Hotmale

Senior Member
Polish
Hello,
I know that I can say "It rained a little". But can I say "It rained little"?

Thanks.
 
  • Siberia

    Senior Member
    UK-Wales - English
    Yes but they mean different things.
    1. means it rained (indefinite quantity)
    2. means it rained (small amount - more specific)
     

    Hotmale

    Senior Member
    Polish
    Thanks for your answer. I had doubts about the latter because in my text book I found information that "little (as adverbs) is used chiefly with better or more" .
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    This is yet another case in which textbook theory may be different from actual use of a language in context.

    Here is an invented example of "it rained little".

    November is normally the wettest month of the year in this area, with nearly five inches of rain on average. But this year it rained little. We have had less than half the normal rainfall.
     

    difficult cuss

    Senior Member
    English England
    I do not understand Siberias descriptions.
    "It rained a little", means just as it says, or, in other words there was not a lot of rain.
    "It rained little" sounds awful, try "it rained lightly".
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    I can see "it rained little" being used as a way to emphasize an unusually small amount of rain, as cuchuflete suggested. "It rained little" does not mean "it rained lightly." It means "it rarely rained."

    "We traveled to the Olympic rainforest in western Washingon state while on vacation this year. Although this is the wettest place in the United States, with an average rainfall of over 100 inches per year, it rained little while we were there. We were surprised!"

    To say "it rained a little while we were there" in the sentence above would not make sense. It would not be surprising that it rained a little while we were visiting a rainforest. It would be surprising if it rained litle, though, or more casually spoken as "only rained a little."

    [edit]
    Thinking about this a bit more, it does sound a little stiff to say "it rained little". I think I would probably write, "we had little rain while we were there."
     

    Siberia

    Senior Member
    UK-Wales - English
    It rained a little meaning that there was some rain.
    It rained little meaning there wasn't much at all (very small quantity surprisingly or not).
    Is that clearer?
     

    JamesM

    Senior Member
    Hmm.. I don't see "it rained little" as "very small quantity." I see it as "very rarely rained."

    For example, I could say, "When we were in the desert in Mexico, it rained little, but when it did, it poured buckets!" This is not self-contradictory, in my opinion. It rarely rained, but when it did, there was a great deal of rain.

    I agree that it does not always include the implication of being surprising. I hope I didn't mislead anyone in my previous post. I only meant that having it rarely rain in a rainforest would be surprising, while having a little rain fall while in a rainforest would not.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It rained little is, as suggested, not very common.

    Apart from that, I feel the difference between the two is very much as Siberia explained - and it is a difference of expectation, not of fact. A bit like the difference between half-full and half-empty. It might be clearer if I use different expressions.

    It rained a little = It rained a bit.
    It rained little = It didn't rain much.
     

    Siberia

    Senior Member
    UK-Wales - English
    But if you add it all up, in the end it is very little (small quantity).
    But I see your point - yes that too.
     
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