Little

'Little' has these functions: determiner, pronoun, or adverb. In this lesson, we will discover all about this word.

How to Use "little" in the English Grammar

Little is a small word with three functions that we are going to learn in this lesson.

Functions of 'Little'

1. 'Little' as a Determiner

Use

Little as a determiner is used to modify a noun and indicates something is small in size, small in amount, a younger person, a short duration, or an unimportant thing. It is also used to approve or disapprove of something or someone. Take a look:

  • Little indicates something is small in size. For example:

We have a little school.

small school

He is a little man.

a short man

  • Little heads an uncountable noun to show it is small in amount. Look:

I have little water.

'Little' heads an uncountable noun.

  • Little shows someone is younger than another person, like:

This is my little sister.

  • Little indicates a short period of time or distance. Like:

We need a little break.

He left us for a little while.

  • Little shows something is unimportant or trivial. Look:

That's a little problem we haven't ever had.

  • Little indicates to refer to someone or something in an approving/friendly way or a disapproving/critical way. Look:

Bless her little heart.

approving

She has a dirty little secret.

disapproving

Position in a Sentence

Little as a determiner is used to before nouns or noun phrases to modify them, like:

He left us for a little while.

I have little water.

This is my little sister.

2. 'Little' as a Pronoun

Use

Little as a pronoun replaces the noun it refers to and shows 'a small amount or quantity.' Look:

Little was done to solve it.

There is little we can do.

Position in a Sentence

Little as a pronoun can replace the subject, the object, the subject complement, etc. Look:

There is little we can do.

'Little' is the object.

Little was done to solve it.

'Little' is the subject.

3. 'Little' as an Adverb

Use

Little as an adverb is used to modify a verb and add more information to the sentence. It either indicates something of a small amount or degree or an action that is done not very often. Look:

  • Little indicates a very small amount or degree and means 'hardly at all, not very much.' Look:

I work very little.

She is little known in this city.

  • Little means 'not often.' Look:

She travels little.

Position in a Sentence

Little as an adverb modifies the verb. So it can be placed before or after the verb. Like:

She travels little.

She is little known in this city.

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