little

little
I [[t]lɪ̱t(ə)l[/t]] DETERMINER, QUANTIFIER, AND ADVERB USES
1) DET: DET n-uncount You use little to indicate that there is only a very small amount of something. You can use `so', `too', and `very' in front of little.

I had little money and little free time...

I find that I need very little sleep these days...

There is little doubt that a diet high in fibre is more satisfying...

So far little progress has been made towards ending the fighting...

The pudding is quick and easy and needs little attention once in the oven.

Ant:
QUANT: QUANT of def-n
Little is also a quantifier.

Little of the existing housing is of good enough quality... They claim that little of the $16.5 million dollars in aid sent by the US government has reached them.

PRON
Little is also a pronoun.

He ate little, and drank less... In general, employers do little to help the single working mother... Little is known about his childhood.

2) ADV-GRADED: ADV with v Little means not very often or to only a small extent.

On their way back to Marseille they spoke very little...

Only Africa is at present little affected by hard drugs.

3) DET: DET n-uncount A little of something is a small amount of it, but not very much. You can also say a very little.

Mrs Caan needs a little help getting her groceries home...

A little food would do us all some good.

...a little light reading...

I shall be only a very little time.

Ant:
a lot
PRON
Little is also a pronoun.

They get paid for it. Not much. Just a little.

QUANT: QUANT of def-n-uncount/sing
Little is also a quantifier.

Pour a little of the sauce over the chicken... I'm sure she won't mind sparing us a little of her time.

4) ADV-GRADED: ADV after v If you do something a little, you do it for a short time.

He walked a little by himself in the garden.

5) ADV-GRADED: ADV after v, ADV adj/adv A little or a little bit means to a small extent or degree.

He complained a little of a nagging pain between his shoulder blades...

He was a little bit afraid of his father's reaction...

If you have to drive when you are tired, go a little more slowly than you would normally...

He wanted to have someone to whom he could talk a little about himself.

6) PHRASE: PHR with cl If something happens little by little, it happens very gradually.

In the beginning he had felt well, but little by little he was becoming weaker...

I would have to learn, little by little, to exist alone.

Syn:
II [[t]lɪ̱t(ə)l[/t]] ADJECTIVE USES
littler, littlest
(The comparative littler and the superlative littlest are sometimes used in spoken English for meanings 1, 3, and 4, but otherwise the comparative and superlative forms of the adjective little are not used.)
1) ADJ-GRADED: usu ADJ n Little things are small in size. Little is slightly more informal than small.

We sat around a little table, eating and drinking wine.

...the little group of art students.

Syn:
Ant:
2) ADJ: ADJ n You use little to indicate that someone or something is small, in a pleasant and attractive way.

She's got the nicest little house not far from the library.

...a little old lady...

James usually drives a little hatchback.

3) ADJ-GRADED A little child is young.

I have a little boy of 8...

When I was little I was very hyper-active.

4) ADJ: ADJ n Your little sister or brother is younger than you are.

Whenever Daniel's little sister was asked to do something she always had a naughty reply.

Syn:
younger
Ant:
5) ADJ-GRADED: ADJ n A little distance, period of time, or event is short in length.

Just go down the road a little way, turn left, and cross the bridge...

Why don't we just wait a little while and see what happens...

I've been wanting to have a little talk with you.

Ant:
6) ADJ-GRADED: ADJ n A little sound or gesture is quick.

I had a little laugh to myself...

She stood up quickly, giving a little cry of astonishment...

He turned with a little nod and I watched him walk away.

Ant:
7) ADJ: ADJ n You use little to indicate that something is not serious or important.

...irritating little habits...

Harry found himself getting angry over little things that had never bothered him before.


English dictionary. 2008.

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