3

"Animal Kingdom and Shackleford are little more than the best of a bad bunch of 3-year-old thoroughbreds".

(New York Times, June 11 2011. It is a New York Times article about the stakes.)

Is it possible to use "a little more" instead of "little more" and if so, Would it change the meaning that much?

6
  • Is this your writing or a quote?
    – James K
    Jan 22, 2021 at 1:08
  • This is a quote.
    – Quique
    Jan 22, 2021 at 1:11
  • A quote from what? please cite your source.
    – James K
    Jan 22, 2021 at 1:14
  • Animal Kingdom and Shackleford are little more than the best of a bad bunch of 3-year-old thoroughbreds. New York Times, June 11 2011. It is a New York Times article about the stakes.
    – Quique
    Jan 22, 2021 at 1:54
  • Thanks, I've edited the question
    – James K
    Jan 22, 2021 at 2:00

2 Answers 2

1

To say "a little more" is an evaluation of the difference between two things. To say "little more" is a comparison of the undesirable similarities between two things. It is an idiom, and it is especially used when those things should not be similar.

For example, you could call the Sheriff of Nottingham "little more than a common thief" to both call him a common thief and to emphasize that he should be much more than that. In your example, the two horses are bad horses surrounded by other bad horses. The author appears to object to these horses being similar in their badness.

1

It would be very awkward and it would change the meaning slightly.

"Little more than" means that it is "not much more than" or less-directly "essentially" the thing described after it.

In contrast, "A little more than" means that it is literally "just a bit more than" the thing described after it.

E.G. In Hamlet: "More than kin and less than kind" could be rewritten as "A little more than kin and less than kind" and means that Claudius is literally more than family to his mother (now he is the lover of his mother).

In contrast, "Little more than kin" would mean that he is basically just family.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .