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Hi,

Please check if my reasoning is correct.

a little and little are ususally used in front of uncountable nouns to signal the amount in possession and they respectively are coming from the positive polarity and negative polarity view points.

I have a little or little money -- Here, it is acting as a sort of quantifier, I think.

1. OK, but I think, this take on looking from the positive polarity view point and negative polarity view point fails somewhat when they are used as adverbs like this.

I speak English a little.

I think you can say, "I speak English little," but is awakward and sounds stilted??.

2. And that "polarity view point" thing?? also isn't applicable when they are used to modify adjectives, I think.

I am a little angry.

I think you cannot say "I am little angry."

3. And I think you can't use for this too.

He has been Treasurer for a little over four years.

Here, I think, you cannot say, "He has been Treasrer for little over four years."
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And that "polarity view point" thing?? also isn't applicable when they are used to modify adjectives, I think.

There's nothing wrong with the "polarity thing"! It's just that in some contexts (as you have pointed out), only one of the two polarities is available to form grammatical sentences.

CJ
Comments  
Believer
1. OK, but I think, this take on looking from the positive polarity view point and negative polarity view point fails somewhat when they are used as adverbs like this.

I speak English a little.

I think you can say, "I speak English little," but is awakward and sounds stilted??.

I would say 'I speak little English' to express that I do not speak it well.

I don't think I would say' say 'I speak a little English', but I would not find it all that strange if someone else said it.

We spoke English a little sounds like We spoke English (for) a little (while).

 CalifJim's reply was promoted to an answer.