Difference between Little and A Little | Little vs A Little

So “Do you want a little sugar in your tea?” Or “Do you want little sugar in your tea?” Which one do you think is the correct way to say the sentence? Both seem correct, don’t they! Now some students might argue that both these words. So how to avoid all this confusion and use the correct term in sentences? Though the English Language might seem confusing, if you understand the meanings of the terms that you are using, it will turn out to be easy for you. This article will discuss whether the terms ‘little’ and ‘a little’ are different or not. Let’s go through the following points to understand.

Table Summarising the Difference between Little and A Little

Little

A Little

Meaning

The word little means a bit of or hardly any amount.

The term a little means some or a small quantity.

Usage

It is used as an Adjective, Adverb and Pronoun.

It is used as an Adverb.

Example

We have little time left to finish the task.

There’s a little chance that the boy will win.

Many might still think after going through the table that ‘little’ and ‘a little’ have the same meaning. But that’s not true! A detailed explanation is given below to have a better understanding. And it will help the students to understand when they can use these words.

The Difference between Little and A Little – Meaning

The simple difference between the terms ‘little’ and ‘a little’ is that the former has a negative tone to it, and the latter has a positive meaning. When ‘little’ is used, it means hardly any or minute amount. For example, “There is little hope that the patient will survive.” Here, ‘little’ means that there’s hardly any hope that the patient will survive. But if one uses ‘a little’ in a sentence, it means some or small quantity. So if we use ‘a little’ in the same example, i.e. “There is a little hope that the patient will survive.” Then it means there’s some chance or small chance that the patient might survive. The following examples will help students understand much more clearly.

Example of Little and A Little

The examples below will be beneficial for students to understand the terms ‘little’ and ‘a little’.

Little -i) Little is known about Alice’s childhood. (Pronoun)

ii) On their way back from school the children spoke very little. (Adverb)

iii) The young boy was quite little when his grandmother passed away. (Adjective)

A Little – There is a little chance that it will rain today. (adverb)

Little and A Little – Conclusion

Summing up, the article shows how ‘little’ and ‘a little’ are different from one another, thus helping students understand the difference between them. Apart from this, BYJU’S also offers various articles on many such ‘differences between two words’ that students often get confused with.

Meta Title – Difference between Little and A Little | Little vs A Little

Meta Desc – What is the difference between Little and A Little? Learn about the difference between Little and A Little, their usage, meaning and examples, only at BYJU’S English.

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