5

There is a little water in the pot.

There is some water in the pot.

What is the difference between them? How can I distinguish these sentences? I am a bit confused.

5

"A little" has greater emphasis on there being a small amount than "some." In that sense, "a little" is less than "some."

For example, someone who leaves a pot on the stove for far too long and comes back might say "there is a little water in the pot" to express greater relief at a near miss of a much more dangerous situation, than "there is some water in the pot" which someone might say when there's still plenty left - not too much that it's in danger of boiling over, and not so little that it's in danger of burning.

3

There really isn't much of a difference. Saying there is a little water is like saying "there is a small amount of water," while saying there is some water is just saying there is an arbitrary (unknown or unspecified) amount of water.

"A little" can be confusing, since people who don't speak English primarily might confuse it with the word "small". While "little" means "small", "a little" usually refers to "a small amount". Saying "There is a small water in the pot" doesn't make sense.

If this doesn't answer your question, or you need more clarification, just let me know.

  • Re your recent deletion of the an R.A. question: it's actually better for the site itself if you don't delete a question identified as a duplicate, because more "previously-asked" questions make it easier for subsequent visitors to find them. I don't know if the fact of closure means you take a reputation hit, but if so that's a counterproductive aspect of the points system. – FumbleFingers Apr 3 '16 at 15:57
  • Saying "There is a little water in the pot." has a meaning equivalent to "There is a small amount of water in the pot." That latter sentence does make sense, but needs the "amount of" words omitted in the example in this answer (as of the time of this comment). – WBT Jan 16 at 14:51

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