General Writing and Grammar Help/RE: Italy has.....

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Question
Dear Ted:

In the sentence "Italy has a little chance of winning the next World Cup," is the noun "chance" countable or uncountable? Also, what does "a little" mean? Does the "a" refer to "little" or to "chance"? In other words, is "little" an adjective or part of "a little" meaning "not much but some"? Have I made myself understood?

Also, do the following sentence make sense?

1) The chances of Italy's winning the next World Cup are very slim.

2) There is little chance of Italy's winning the next World Cup.

3) There are little chances of Italy's winning the next World Cup.

4) Italy has virtually no chance of winning the next World Cup.

If they are not grammatical, would you please rephrase them for me?

Finally, if they are all correct, is it possible to use "possibility" in place of "chance" without altering the meaning of them?

Again, many, many thanks for your kind help.

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

In the sentence "Italy has a little chance of winning the next World Cup," is
the noun "chance" countable or uncountable?

*** "Chance" is a countable noun.  I have ONE chance.  You have TWO chances.
Also, what does "a little" mean?

*** As you mention later in this message, "little" means "slim" or "virtually none."

Does the "a" refer to "little" or to "chance"?
*** The article "a" modifies "chance."
In other words, is "little" an
adjective or part of "a little" meaning "not much but some"? Have I made myself
understood?

*** Yes, you have made yourself clear.  "A" and "little" are two separate adjectives that modifying the noun "chance."  Here's another point to consider, Paolo:  When one uses the phrase "little chance," the article "a" is NOT included.  Your sentence #2 below is a correct example.



Also, do the following sentence make sense?

1) The chances of Italy's winning the next World Cup are very slim.

*** YES

2) There is little chance of Italy's winning the next World Cup.

*** YES

3) There are little chances of Italy's winning the next World Cup.

*** NO -- Only the singular form can be used.

4) Italy has virtually no chance of winning the next World Cup.

*** YES

If they are not grammatical, would you please rephrase them for me?

Finally, if they are all correct, is it possible to use "possibility" in place
of "chance" without altering the meaning of them?

*** Yes, "possibility" is a good substitute.

Ted

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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