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Hi,

I sometimes get a confusion between "a little" and "little" and therefore I tend to speak "a" in a low voice, because I don't really know whether I have to add "a" before "little".

e.g.

(i) Would you wait a little longer?
(ii) Would you wait little longer? => You don't say like this? I don't get any result with this on "Google".

(a) I have got a little experience in web design. => you somehow got enough experience to take part in web design.

(b) I have got little experience in web design. => you have got only (a little or little???) knowledge of Web design, and therefore you don't have enough experience to do web design for say, a company.

Even though, I do know about the difference in meaning between [a] and , I am still not sure with this or is "a little" a fixed phrase?

Could anyone help me understand this, please.

Thanks in advance.
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Comments  
"a little" has a positive polarity; it focuses on the presence of a small amount.
"little" has a negative polarity; it focuses on the absence of a great amount.

I have a little experience. = I have some experience. = I have a small amount of experience.
I have little experience. = I do not have much experience.

I think I could do that job fairly well; I have a little experience doing that sort of thing.
I doubt I could do that job very well; I have little experience doing that sort of thing.

It seems the patient is recovering from her illness; she shows a little interest in food today.
It seems the patient is not recovering; she still shows little interest in food.

Do you understand English?
-- Yes, I understand a little. = I understand a small amount of English.
-- Yes, but very little. = I understand some English, but I do not understand very much English.

I understand English and German, but only a little French. = ..., but not more than a small amount of French.
He drinks a lot of wine, but little beer. = He drinks a lot of wine, but not very much beer.

Please stay a little longer. = Please stay a small amount of time longer.
?Please stay little longer. = Please don't stay very much longer. (Strange! Insulting! Unidiomatic!)

Note: "little, a little, much" with noncountables correspond to "few, a few, many" with countables.
Note: In many cases in everyday conversation, "not very much" is more idiomatic than "little".

CJ
That was descriptive and I might add, a damn good explanation, damn good!!!
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Thank you, Jim.
I alway appreciate your help.

I've got one more question on "a" and without "a" and this time it's a bit different one.

What would be the difference between "long" and "a long" then?

For example,
(1) I have not seen you for "a long time"
(2) I have not seen you for "long time"

If I understood your explaination properly, the proper way of saying is the formal one, and it would have the meaning of "very long time" since it's got quite opposite meaning of the "a little" or is it that if you had the "a" in front of whatever following, it would have the meaning of "a small amount"?

Could someone help me understand this?

Thank you in advance.
There is no alternating contrast between "long" and "a long" in the same way that there is between "few" and "a few", "little" and "a little".

The expression is fixed: "(for) a long time".
"for long time" is not English!

Emotion: geeked
What would be the difference between "long" and "a long" then?

For example,
(1) I have not seen you for "a long time"
(2) What would be the difference between "long" and "a long" then?

For example,
(1) I have not seen you for "a long time"
(2) I have not seen you for "long time"

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

What Jim said is right on. But you may have heard sepech wherein the sound of the was nearly unvoiced or it was attached to , making it sound like ENLs say,

I have not seen you for "long time"*

I haven seen you fora "long time".

A great deal of speech is compressed and many sounds are elided. Notice the lack of a at the end of . Often this goes unvoiced or almost unvoiced.

Wenaya gonna get back?

Wazee gonna do?

Wadee get for Xmas?

Wherejya hear that?

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Thank you. That was a good explanation.

You said this can be said:

Yes, I understand a little

Then, can you say this?

Yes, I understand little

Would you say that "a little" and "little" can be used interchangeably in almost all the cases or in all the cases?
Believer
You said this can be said:

Yes, I understand a little

Then, can you say this?

Yes, I understand little

It's wrong.

You have to add "but" to indicate a meaning turn, for the reason as CJ wrote:



"a little" has a positive polarity;
"little" has a negative polarity;"
Believer
Would you say that "a little" and "little" can be used interchangeably in almost all the cases or in all the cases?

Interchangeable!!??

I think the answer is yes, if you don't consider their meanings are opposite.[A]

"
Would you say that "a little" and "little" can be used interchangeably
can be used interchangeably means have the same meaning.

So no, absolutely not. They cannot be used interchangeably. To say that these can be used interchangeably is like saying that "yes" and "no" can be used interchangeably - something obviously false!

from time to time and once in a while can be used interchangeably because they have the same meaning, for example:

I travel to Brownsvale [from time to time / once in a while]. (Same meaning either way.)
____________

I understand little is possible but unusual as is. Normally there would be more to it.

I understand little about that problem.

Much more often not much is used instead of little.

I don't understand much about that problem.

CJ
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