I'm looking at a chart having quantifiers with verbs in it including a lot / quite a bit / a little / very much. I've seen these a lot but now this chart made me think more and wonder. I understand all but the last two sentences.

Does “it snows a little” mean the same as, more or less as “it doesn't snow very much”?

I've searched and couldn't get a straight answer! There were some arguments concerning the implication of expectation, and apparently has remained unconcluded, but here has nothing to do with expectation at all anyway. Actually they were simply put in a chart, but there is no distinction based on their intensity.


1 Answer 1


There may be no quantitative difference between a little and not very much. It's all a matter of perspective. Most commonly (i.e., when not use sarcastically), the first tends to mean that you are encouraged by the amount and the second that you are discouraged.

It snowed a little last night. We might be able to go skiing today.

You want to go skiing and you hope that the amount of snow will be sufficient.

It didn't snow very much last night. I doubt we can go skiing today.

You want to go skiing and you worry that there won't be enough snow for that.

  • Oh I see. Then it's the matter of perspective. It kind of has something to do with being enough or not enough then. a little has a positive connotation while not very much a negative one. Is that so? BTW I inderstand that you take the quantity the same, right?
    – Yuri
    Oct 30, 2016 at 17:53
  • @Yuri: Pretty much.
    – Robusto
    May 13, 2017 at 13:12
  • I agree with Robusto. Also, if you added the word "only" to "a little" ("only a little"), then that phrase would have almost the same negative connotation as "not very much." So if it snowed "only a little," then you might also fear there is not enough snow to go skiing. Dec 16, 2018 at 5:18

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