WOTW: little

| - Gorka Dieitz-Sanxurxo |

triplo word of the week - little


今週の #WOTW は 'little’ です。’Little’ is mainly an adjective or an adverb, but also a determiner and a pronoun. It’s used in quite a few phrases too. Let us tell you all about it, if you can spare a little time. First, the adjective.


- Look at how lovely the little flowers are! (Small in size, amount, or degree, often used to convey an appealing diminutiveness or express an affectionate or condescending attitude.)

- We are reading “A Little Princess” at triplo book club this month. (See above.)

- Have you met my little sister? (Of a young or younger person.)

- I think I should like to visit Little Tokyo if I ever go to LA. (Denoting something, especially a place, that is the smaller or smallest of those so named or is named after a similar larger one.)

- Oh, please! Stay for a little while! (Of short distance or duration.)

- I don’t hate him, although I might have a little problem with him. (Relatively unimportant or trivial, often used ironically.)


Let’s have a look at the determiner and the pronoun now.


- You seem to have nothing to do and I could use a little help here. (A small amount of.)

- The child promised he would behave, but he started to cry after a little. (A short time or distance.)

- I have little hope, but I’ll apply anyway. (Used to emphasize how small an amount is.)


Time for the adverb.


- It smells a little like lemon. Is it lemon? (To a small extent.)

- Lentils are little consumed in Japan. (Only to a small extent; not much or often. Used for emphasis.)

- When things are little discussed or not discussed at all, problems arise. (Hardly or not at all.)


The phrases, always interesting, come next. Keep in mind that English people like to downplay (or make little of) things when reading these phrases and the way we use them.


- [quite a little] He says he doesn’t, but after so many years in Japan, he must speak quite a little Japanese. (A fairly large amount of.)

- [quite a little] It was quite a little storm. (A considerable.)

- [quite the little —] Look at you! If you haven’t become quite the gentleman. (Used as a condescending or ironic recognition that someone has a particular quality or accomplishment.)

- [no little] We must have live music at the reception. That is of no little importance. (Considerable.)

- [little by little] I know it’s hard. But if you keep at it, you’ll become better little by little. (By degrees, gradually.)

- [not a little] COVID has caused not a little trouble. (A great deal of, much.)

- [not a little] It was not a little shocking to discover the truth. (Very.)

- [make little of] He always makes little of his impressive accomplishments. (Treat as unimportant.)

- [little or nothing] I have little of nothing to complain about my children. They’re really nice. (Hardly anything.)

- [in little] Her poems reflect the greatest philosophical questions of our time in little. (On a small scale, in miniature.)