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To translate little by little, is there any difference between these two choices? Not a super important thing, exactly, but I'm still curious.

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

They both express the same thing, but there is a little bit difference between them:

We use petit à petit to describe a process/action which steps are evolving slowly but still they are clear and distinguishable ones:

  • Petit à petit, l'oiseau fait son nid: This is a proverd and it means: little by little, the bird constructs its nest
  • J'ai construit ma maison petit à petit: I have built my house little by little: The process of building, even if it is slow, involves clear and distinguisable steps.

We use peu à peu to describe a process/action which steps are evolving slowly but this process is not clear in that its steps are not distinguishable:

  • Le climat se réchauffe peu à peu: the climate is warming little by little.
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