Tuesday, June 18, 2013

LITTLE or A LITTLE interest in fish

At the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. Do you have A LITTLE interest in fish?

Did you know saying you have "A LITTLE" interest in something and saying you have "LITTLE" interest in something are completely different? For example, if you have A LITTLE interest in fish and the ocean, you'll probably like looking at the photo above and you might even want to check out the aquarium. On the other hand, if you have LITTLE interest in fish or the ocean, you probably won't care much about this photo, and you probably find aquariums boring. So, which one are you?

It's interesting how the article "A" can make a huge difference in meaning. "A LITTLE" means an amount of something, while "LITTLE" means not much. For example, if you say you have A LITTLE money in your bag, you're simply saying you have a small amount of money. You may want to say that there's enough for the day or that there's enough of it if you need to buy something. Whatever the context, you're just announcing that you have a bit of money.

On the other hand, if you say you have LITTLE money, you're saying that you don't have much or enough and that it's probably insufficient to buy anything. It could even mean that you're poor. When you don't use the article A, the sentence has a negative meaning.

Here are a few examples.
1. I have A LITTLE bit of money left. Let's grab some lunch. (a small amount)
2. I have LITTLE money left, so I have to watch my spending. Let's go someplace less expensive. (not much)
3. I have A LITTLE water. Would you like some?
4. I have LITTLE water left in my bag. I want to save it for later when it gets really hot.
5. · Do you have A LITTLE time to talk? 
    · Sorry, I have very LITTLE time before my plane leaves. Let's talk when I get back.

Incidentally, the same goes for "A FEW" and "FEW". A FEW means a small number of or about four of something, while FEW means not many. If you saw A FEW people, you probably saw about four or a small number of people. On the other hand, if you saw FEW people, it means you didn't see many people.

Here are a few examples.
1. We thought we'd be the only ones on the highway at 3 a.m., buy there were A FEW other cars on the road. (a small number of cars)
2. We thought traffic would be heavy, but there were actually FEW cars on the road. (not many cars)
3. FEW customers came in the store, so the manager decided to close early. (not many customers)
4. A FEW customers bought their newest product, so the manager decided to order more of it. (a small number of customers)
5. · I hear FEW people are interested in the event, so I don't think it will be packed. 
    · Actually, I know A FEW who are interested in it; we should still get there early, just in case.

Try to finish the following sentences. 
  • I have A LITTLE interest in ... (learning German, sky diving, moving overseas)
  • I have LITTLE interest in ... (bungee jumping, learning how to dance)
  • There are A FEW ... (cafes, restaurants) in my neighborhood.  (a small number of)
  • There are FEW ... (apartment buildings) in my neighborhood. (not many)

Alright, folks. Share your sentences here, on NYLC's page on Facebook, or on Twitter at NYLangCenter. Add the HASHTAG #ilovenylc with your Tweets. Good luck! :-)

-- Joe Yu, ESL instructor

No comments:

Post a Comment