Small vs Little

Hi everyone,

“Which city are you from?”

“From Newport. It’s a small town on the south-east coast of Wales. And it’s a twenty-minute walk to a little fishing village.”

Right. I wonder why in this dialogue it’s used the adjective “small” when the person is speaking about the town whom is originally, and the adjective “little” in reference to the village. I knew that the two adjectives have different uses (e.g. A small silver cross; Do you speak Italian? Just a little).

Thanks in advance. Bye

‘Small’ and ‘little’ are often used interchangeably. This person could just have just as easily said “… which is a twenty-minute walk to a small fishing village.” but that would have meant using ‘small’ twice in a short time.
Personally I would not describe Newport as either ‘little’ or ‘small’ . To me, it is a large town.

Generally speaking, the adjective “little” is a more emotionally invested word, with a nuance of small in an appealing way, or a sympathetic/pitiful way, or a childish way, for example. “small” is more neutral. “little” may also feel smaller than “small”. In this case it tends to make the village sound quaint or attractive.

Your example “Just a little” is slightly different because “little” is in that case not an adjective.

I would not personally call a town of 145,700 inhabitants “small”. Given the geography, “a twenty-minute walk to a little fishing village” also seems slightly odd. Twenty minutes would scarcely get you across the town. Also, I think Newport is a city, not a town.

Asking people “Which city are you from?” is not ideal, at least not in the UK, since it presupposes the other person is from a city. In the US, “city” is used rather differently.

Yes, Newport has the official title ‘city’ rather than ‘town’. I’m trying to work out where the ‘little fishing village’ is!
Possibly the person is talking about Cwm Hedd Lakes in Bassaleg, which is on the outskirts of Newport, though Bassaleg itself is not a ‘fishing village’, and I would consider it to be more of a suburb of the city. The coastal fishing areas are Goldcliff (Eastward) and St Brides Wentloog (Westward) but both those places are more than a 20-minute walk.

Hi Bev and Dozy,

I have to admit that in the original dialogue the “city” was Dundee and not Newport – I wrote Newport just because I recently discovered that Bev is Welsh :slight_smile: --, anyway before to do that I checked that the two cities have almost the same number of inhabitants (Dundee has 152,320 inhabitants).

Dozy, you’re right. I took the sentence “a twenty-minute walk to a little fishing village” from a different dialogue, just to understand the different use of “small” and “little” in the two cases mentioned. The geography is not an opinion. :slight_smile:

Well, thanks a lot for your helpfulness, as always. See you soon.

Well, that’s at least one mystery solved then.

Hehe, sorry Bev, I’ve read just now your last message. I’m driving you crazy! :smiley:

I ask you a piece of advice. I have an English course book which also contains tongue twisters to practise the language, like this: “Chatty Richard and cheating Charles cheerfully chewed cheese and chewed gum wich they stuck under their chair in the Chinese church”. The authors of the book recommend to memorize them. Well, my question is: do you think that can really be useful to improve my English?


I think tongue twisters can be useful for pronunciation but I don’t think that memorising them is a useful way of improving your English in itself. Perhaps the authors thought that it would be easier to focus on the pronunciation if you knew them by rote and didn’t have to worry about reading them as you said them. That makes sense for people who find reading English difficult.

Thanks. By the way, the book is the same where I found the notorious sentence “Did you buy some TIN FOOD too?”. Not a great purchase, I would say.

Hi everyone,

In my first message on this topic, I wrote “… the person is speaking about the town WHOM is originally”. Could you confirm that’s OK?

Thanks. Cheerio

That’s not right, but whilst I understood the general meaning, I wasn’t sure what you were trying to say specifically with that phrase.
Do you mean:
…used the adjective ‘small’ when the person was speaking about the town, as he did originally,

Mmmh, no. Actually I meant that the person is originally from that town. Alright, I have to study again the use of “whom”.

I get it! In the original phrase I meant “… the person is speaking about the town WHOSE is originally”. Damn…

Not quite, sorry. ‘Whose’ doesn’t work there at all.
You’d have to say something like.
the person is speaking about the town where he originally lived.

I give up.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. I think you’re amazing.

Oh Bev, I think you’re too good. Lots of love.