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Small vs little



 
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ESL Forum | English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms
Is the bit from 'Pacquiao' grammatically correct? | Usage of "must" and "should"
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Small vs little #1 (permalink) Fri Nov 24, 2006 5:20 am   Small vs little
 

Hi teachers,

I’m not quite sure of the difference in meaning between “small” and “little”.

Example: small boy vs lillte boy.

What is the difference between them?

Thank in advance

Jupiter
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Small vs little #2 (permalink) Fri Nov 24, 2006 5:59 am   Small vs little
 

There isn't any difference between a small boy and a little boy.

In some situations "little" sounds more juvenile than "small", so I'd avoid "little" in extremely formal situations, but otherwise there's no difference that I can detect.

Small is used most of the time when forming comparatives and superlatives.
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Small vs little #3 (permalink) Fri Nov 24, 2006 14:08 pm   Small vs little
 

.
There are some odd differences that you will run across, Jupiter. For instance, little carries an emotional factor that small usually does not: a strange little creature, a little troublemaker. Also, little tends to be more a premodifier: You made some small/little mistakes vs your mistakes were small / (?) little.
.
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Small vs little #4 (permalink) Fri Nov 24, 2006 14:22 pm   Small vs little
 

Hi,

'Little' is often used in a derogatory and abstract sense as in: of little importance/significance. Little help was offered to the poor. (not much) She showed little interest in his remarks. Small often relates to physical size with objects/people - a small person/ a small present/gift.

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Small vs little #5 (permalink) Fri Nov 24, 2006 14:27 pm   Small vs little
 

Alan wrote:
'Little' is often used in a derogatory and abstract sense as in: of little importance/significance. Little help was offered to the poor. (not much) She showed little interest in his remarks. Small often relates to physical size with objects/people - a small person/ a small present/gift.

What this means is that "little" can be used as a quantifier, denoting the amount of something, whereas "small" denotes size.
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Small vs little #6 (permalink) Fri Nov 24, 2006 14:38 pm   Small vs little
 

Oh
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Small vs little #7 (permalink) Fri Nov 24, 2006 16:03 pm   Small vs little
 

Jupiter ... the use of 'small' when referring to a boy would reflect only his size and could be used whether the boy was 3 years old or 13. "Little" goes to age or maturity level and one might refer to an 8 year old (for example) as a 'little' boy even though he might be no shorter than average... or possibly even taller. Since young boys *are* generally of short stature, the two terms can often be used in reference to the same child.
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little small #8 (permalink) Wed Aug 06, 2008 15:30 pm   little small
 

Small and little are both adjectives. We use small to talk about the size of something.
Your cat is very small.
Can I have two small pizzas please?

We can use little to refer to size, but we usually use it with another adjective to express an emotion.
You're a silly little boy.
Nobody's looking after that poor little dog.

In comparative and superlative form, small is more common in British English, and little is more common in American English.
That's the smallest phone I've ever seen. (British English)
That's the littlest phone I've ever seen. (American English)

from
http://www.eslbase.com/grammar/small-little

and

One thing I can already tell you is that I've been taught "little" cannot be used as a predicate.
* the house is little: NO
the house is small: YES
Elina7lina
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little small #9 (permalink) Wed Aug 06, 2008 16:57 pm   little small
 

elina7lina wrote:
In comparative and superlative form, small is more common in British English, and little is more common in American English.
That's the smallest phone I've ever seen. (British English)
That's the littlest phone I've ever seen. (American English)

This is nonsense. I wonder who made it up.

In both countries, "littlest" is used primarily by preschool children, but by the age of 9 everybody says "smallest".

elina7lina wrote:
One thing I can already tell you is that I've been taught "little" cannot be used as a predicate.
* the house is little: NO
the house is small: YES

More nonsense. Both are possible, but it's somewhat uncommon and a bit childish-sounding to say, "The house is little." It's not actually wrong, though.
Jamie (K)
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