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Is the use of "littler" ever proper?

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  • 19olga69
    7 February, 2010 at 18:30
    • Total posts: 1

    What about adjectives littler and the littlest?
    Do they exist?
    Some sources say there are such words and other denied it or keep on debating.Where is the truth?


    7 February, 2010 at 23:10
    • Total posts: 589

    Reply To: Is the use of "littler" ever proper?

    littler and the littlest do exist.

    What is "correct" is whatever is commonly used. I often hear native English speakers using littler and the littlest and so we can say that they are "correct".

    However, "littler" may be more common in American English (in British English "smaller" is probably more common).

    Hope this helps.


    9 February, 2010 at 15:12
    • Total posts: 7

    Reply To: Is the use of "littler" ever proper?

    Hi Olga,
    the form ‘littler’ does appear in dictionaries such as Oxford etc but its use is very uncommon in British English and virtually unheard of in Ireland where I’m based.
    Most native English-speakers around these parts would probably imagine the form to be ungrammatical (the grammatical test in descriptive grammars being what the native-speaker feels is ‘sayable’). It would be used mostly by children who have learnt the general grammatical rule for comparatives but haven’t latched onto the more common forms: smaller.
    I suspect its more or less common use in certain areas is to do with pronunciation issues – it feels like a pronunciation mouthful in certain accents.
    Hope this helps,

    Bob Golden Director of Studies DLTC Language School Dublin Ireland http://www.dltc.ie

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