Language tip of the week: bit

Posted by on March 07, 2013

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are based on areas of English which learners often find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc.

This week some advice about bit:

The expressions a bit and a little bit, when used before an adjective or adverb, are used mainly in informal English. To express the same meaning in written text, you can use any of the following:

▪  a little
▪  slightly
▪  rather
▪  somewhat

✗ Public service television seems to be a bit more serious, more based on facts.
✓ Public service television seems to be a little more serious, more based on facts.
✓ Public service television seems to be slightly/rather/somewhat more serious, more based on facts.
✗ That would improve the situation a little bit.
✓ That would improve the situation somewhat/a little.
✗ Words can diverge a bit from their literary meaning according to the context.
✓ Words can diverge somewhat/slightly from their literary meaning according to the context.

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