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He took a little exercise and wasn't very fit.
He took little exercise and wasn't very fit.
She took little exercise and felt much better.
She took a little exercise and felt much better.

Little means not much and emphasises the smallness of the amount. It's distinguished from a little which means at least some.

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Look at this dog across the street!
Look at that dog across the street!

This is used to indicate something physically close to the speaker. In the case of abstract things we use this for things which are most immediately present. This is a lovely song! I'll help you do it this time. When we talk about more than one thing we use this for the closer or more immediate and that for the further away or more remote in time. If we're only talking about one thing we usually use that: What's that noise? That's a nice coat! Don't do that!

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I was angry to hear of her death.
I was sorry to hear of her death.

Sorry is the opposite of glad. Angry means annoyed or enraged: He was angry when a boy hit him in the face.

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He's been ill for over a year.
He's been sick for over a year.

To be ill means to be in bad health. To be sick means to vomit. We sometimes use sick idiomatically to mean feeling ill. The smell made me sick.

We can also use sick before certain nouns: The sick room, a sick note, sick leave. We use the plural noun the sick to mean ill people: Angela worked with the sick on the streets of Birmingham.

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I'm two years younger than you.
I'm two years smaller than you
She's three years older than me.
She's three years bigger than me.

If reference is to age, say young or old. Small and big usually refer to size: He is big (or small) for his age.

Great refers to the importance of a person or thing: Napoleon was a great man, Homer's Iliad is a great book. Use great with words like distance, height, length, depth: There is a great distance between the earth and the moon. Informally, use great to mean something nice or good: We watched a great concert last night.

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