How do the determiners: some, a little and a little bit change the meanings of the sentences below?

I can speak some English.

I can speak a little English.

I can speak a little bit of English.

2 Answers 2


Honestly, the difference between these phrases is not big enough to matter. I am having trouble thinking of a situation in which you would want to use one over the other.

If I heard any of those phrases, I would assume the speaker could ask basic questions ("How are you?"), but might have a little trouble using this website or understanding my answer here.

I am leaning towards agreeing with Phoenix, in that "some" is a slightly larger amount than "a little" or "a little bit". However, people who are being modest may say they only speak "some English" or "a little bit of English", when they are actually quite fluent. On the flip side, I have a boastful peer who says he speaks Spanish "well", even though he only knows the very basics.

Judging by your other posts here, I would say you speak more than just "some" English. You could use any of those phrases interchangeably. The person you are speaking with would probably start out with low expectations, and may end up being pleasantly surprised that your English is better than they expected it to be.


some > a little > a little bit

They're all statements with a positive vibe. However,

  • 'some' means you know quite some english
  • 'a little' means you know English enough for certain tasks
  • 'a little bit' means that you know some typical words and phrases of English but only in a small domain.
  • 1
    Considering the negative vibe, they are all nearly equal and mean that you consider yourself far from fluent in English.
    – Ast Pace
    Commented May 4, 2015 at 16:22

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