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What is the difference in meaning or usage between slightly and a bit?

For example, the sentence:

I thought she was younger than me, but in fact she proved to be even slightly older.

Is this correct? Or I should say:

I thought she was younger than me, but in fact she proved to be even a bit older.

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  • Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/168226/… – user66974 Apr 18 '15 at 10:43
  • Have you checked a good dictionary? – Kris Apr 18 '15 at 10:54
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    They're a bit different, but only slightly. However, your sentence would work better if you dropped "even". "Even" is a intensifier in this sort of context and it makes no sense to intensify "slightly" or "a bit". – Hot Licks Apr 18 '15 at 11:59
  • Will someone chime in and correct me if I'm wrong..? It seems that in AmE "slightly" is used more often in a sarcastic sense; (the opposite of "slightly") while in BrE "a bit" means "a whole lot", more often than not. – Oldbag Apr 18 '15 at 12:16
  • The difference is not in the meaning but in the metaphor. A bit is count/unitary/digital/integer, slightly is mass/continuous/analog/real number. One has volume, but only in countable bits and pieces, the other has continously variable volume (or area, or length, or voltage, or any other dimension), with only arbitrary divisions. – John Lawler Apr 18 '15 at 15:03
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You could use either slightly or a bit here; there is negligible difference in meaning.

However, the use of even is not appropriate. You are contrasting opposites ("younger . . .but in fact . . . older), not comparing magnitude in the same direction , where even would be appropriate ("he was old, but she was even older")

  • Oh, you could say even that way, provided you gave it the right intonation; it would probly sound better as to even be slightly older, or even proved to be slightly older, better yet. The focus of even is really the whole VP 'proved to be slightly older' -- that's the extreme, surprising phenomenon that even is commenting on -- so right before that VP is its natural slot, though it can be floated, like many operators, to other positions in the clause. – John Lawler Apr 18 '15 at 14:57

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