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유닛 1: English In A Minute
Give us a minute and we'll give you English

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  1. 1 English In A Minute

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Welcome to English In A Minute. Give us a minute and we'll give you a hot tip about English. Grammar, vocabulary... there's so much to learn! And all taught by your favourite BBC Learning English staff!

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Little vs A little

Do you have a minute to spare to learn some English? What's the difference between 'little' and 'a little'? Let Phil explain. Give us 60 seconds and we'll give you the English!

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Phil
Hi, I'm Phil and I'm going to tell you the difference between little and a little.

Yes, they almost mean the same thing. No, we don't use them in the same way. They both refer to small quantities and we use them with uncountable nouns.

If we use 'little' with no article, then it's usually negative – the small quantity is a problem.
There's little money left – we can't buy anything. Or: There's little time left – we need to start now.

But if we use 'a little' with the article, it's usually positive. It almost means 'at least we've got some'. We've got a little money – let's spend it on a party! We've got a little time – let's have some tea.

Remember it like this: If you've got a little money but little time, you could pay someone to help you. But if you've got little money and a little time, you should do it yourself!

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EIAM Teaser 6mingram_li_19_too_very_enough.jpg English at Work______________________________________________________________________________________________________

Little vs A little

Both
Both little and a little refer to small quantities and both are used with uncountable nouns.

Little
When little is used with no article, it's usually negative. Used like this, 'little' means something like 'not enough'.

  • There's little money left – we can't buy anything.
  • There's little time left – we need to start now.
  • I have little patience for this, so please tell me quickly.

A little
When 'a little' is used, it's often positive. It means 'at least we've got some'!

  • We've got a little money – let's spend it on a party!
  • We've got a little time – let's have some tea.
  • There's a little cake left. Have some more!

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