Here’s a sentence which is open to two interpretations and therefore can’t be grammatical:
“This is a little used car”.
To avoid the ambiguity of the meaning, would it be enough just to insert a comma between the above two (maybe reversing the position of “used” and “little”) so that it would mean a used/second-hand car that is not large in size?
This is a little, used car.
This is a used, little car.
What is the way to emphasize that the car (no matter what its size is) has been used for a short time?
I’m thinking of using a hyphen:
This is a little-used car
But I’m not sure about whether it would be correct.
Anyway, being read aloud, both “a little, used” and “a little-used” to me, a non-native English speaker, sound pretty much alike.
Are there other ways of expressing the very same ideas in oral speech for them to be clearly understood?
Not having received the answer so far, I feel like adding to my question the following:
From what I have been able to gather by now, one of the main functions of hyphens (separating words into parts being kept in mind) is combining separate words into a single word to clarify meanings, removing ambiguities from sentences. Gluing words together hyphens notify the reader that two or more elements in a sentence are linked.
At the GrammarBook.com site (Rule 5) there’s a recommendation never to hesitate to add a hyphen if it may solve a possible problem of ambiguity. In this regard, might a hyphen gluing “used” and “car” together (“This is a little used-car”) help solve the problem so that the meaning were “not large in size, used car”? If there’s a restriction (@stangdon in his comment says there is) on using hyphens to link an adjective and the noun it modifies, can’t it be ignored by writers for the sake of clarity?