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Use of "little" and "small"

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Difference between have and have got | Usage of whereby
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Use of "little" and "small" #1 (permalink) Tue Mar 01, 2005 11:48 am   Use of "little" and "small"

Hi everyone,

A student asked me the other day what the difference between "little" and "small" is. I`ve looked EVERYWHERE and can`t find an anwser.
Any ideas?

A reply #2 (permalink) Tue Mar 01, 2005 14:00 pm   A reply

a small amount
a small sum of money
a little help will prove useful
there is little meaning in your words

Given these examples we can say that small is used for describing things we can see and little is used when we talk about things that are more abstract, such as ideas or concepts.
This summary however may not entirly match how things really are. In my opinion the differences between the two words is more subtle than I have described and the only way to learn about the use of the two words is through reading and using the language.
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Use of "little" and "small" #3 (permalink) Tue Mar 01, 2005 20:28 pm   Use of "little" and "small"

This is what I found out in the Oxford Learner's Dictionary:

Small is the most usual opposite of big or large. It can be used in the comparative superlative (--> smaller, the smallest).

a small number, group, house

Little is used to show how you feel about a person or thing. It is rarely used in the comparative or superlative.

a cute little baby
nasty little man

When it is used with uncountable nouns, it means: 'not much', e.g.: a little milk/ sugar/ tea
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