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I was wondering how this phrase sounds in English:

She is a little bit shy.

In my country the people say "a little bit" a lot, and sometimes they use it wrong. I have the impression that in US (or even in other countries where English is spoken), people prefer to be more specific saying "She is shy".

Anyway, I don't want to be misunderstood, can you tell me if the above phrase sounds awkward, and in which situations I can use "a little bit" without problem.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The phrase you wrote is fine. You could say it genuinely to express a mild amount of shyness, or an infrequent shyness.

You could also use a different intonation on "a little bit" to may the phrase sarcastic, and imply she is either very shy, or not shy at all.

The phrase "a little bit" is commonplace in the US also, and will sometimes even be shortened to "bit" i.e.

She is a bit shy.

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2  
Of course, "a bit" can also be used to mean quite a bit - in effect, a euphemism for extremely. –  FumbleFingers Apr 23 '11 at 17:13
    
Thank you for your answer! –  Ed. Brazil Apr 23 '11 at 17:22
    
@FumbleFingers yes, this is a good point! –  BBischof Apr 23 '11 at 18:26

You could also replace with the word "somewhat".

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You only have to use a little bit when it is followed by an adjective. That's a rule. For example, "he is a little bit fool", not "he is a little fool". Another example would be, "speak a little bit louder", not "speak a little louder". It is only grammatical to use it just before an adjective.

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3  
This is wrong all around. "Speak a little louder" is grammatical, and so is "he is a little fool". "He is a little bit fool", on the other hand, is gibberish. (Also, it's adjective, not adjetive. Since you used the latter more than once I suppose it wasn't a mere typo.) –  RegDwigнt Apr 8 '13 at 23:02

protected by RegDwigнt Apr 8 '13 at 23:03

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