• There's little chance of rain.
  • There's a slight chance of rain.

Do these two sentences have the same meaning?

closed as not constructive by user19148, Andrew Leach, Kris, MetaEd, Kristina Lopez Feb 3 '13 at 16:38

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  • They do not mean the same. Check usage of little, few, etc. in comparable sentences. – Kris Feb 3 '13 at 10:40
  • This is not a question on the English language. This is a question of mathematical logic that is common to any language, even in the native tongue of the person asking this question. – Blessed Geek Feb 3 '13 at 10:46
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    @BlessedGeek This question has nothing to do with mathematical logic. – user36987 Feb 3 '13 at 10:50
  • As someone trained in the Engineering maths and logic, I say there is. – Blessed Geek Feb 3 '13 at 11:34
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    Then make a case for why it is... (it's not) – mattacular Feb 3 '13 at 16:21

The first is optimistic. The speaker thinks it probably won’t rain at all. The second is more realistic. The speaker admits that rain is a definite possibility, even if it is not very likely.

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    Thinking that it may not rain is optimism probably in England and some parts, but pessimism in many geographies of the world. Just an aside. :) – Kris Feb 3 '13 at 10:42
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    @Kris. True. I hadn't thought of it that way. – Barrie England Feb 3 '13 at 10:52

Though the meanings of 'slight' and 'little' are not the same generally-speaking, when used in this specific context they do mean the same thing: that there is a small chance of rain.

At least I can't think of a semantic case for preferring one over the other when trying to say there is a small chance of it raining.

  • Because little is not the same as a little, either semantically or syntactically? – TimLymington Feb 3 '13 at 16:28
  • Could you explain how it is semantically different in this specific context? – mattacular Feb 3 '13 at 16:36
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    Little chance on its own denotes "barely any" or "a kind of privative combination, with the sense ‘absence or scarcity of’" (OED senses 10a and 10b), while a little chance is opposed to a large chance, but also to no chance (sense 1, among others). – TimLymington Feb 3 '13 at 19:36
  • Ok but the question is not about the difference between "a little" and "little," if it was, you'd be spot on. How is "There's little chance of rain" different from "There is a slight chance of rain" - both are as opposed to a larger or less slight chance of rain. I don't understand why my answer is wrong. – mattacular Feb 5 '13 at 0:11

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