Little equipment

You only need little equipment to play badminton.

This has two literal meanings, both of which seem odd:

  1. You only need small equipment to play badminton.
  2. You need not enough equipment to play badminton.

Clearly the writer did not intend either of these meanings. First of all there is obviously a standard size for badminton equipment, which is neither small nor large. Secondly, it would be impossible to play badminton without ‘enough’ equipment!

Little and a little have quite different meanings. Compare:

Bill
Gosh I’m thirsty after that game! Do you have any water left?
Mike
Yes, I still have a little. Here you are.
 
[a little = not much, but enough]
Bill
I wish we could play badminton more often!
Mike
Yes, but because of my job I have little time.
 
[little = not enough]

In the opening example, the writer is – I think – trying to say that playing badminton does not involve a lot of equipment:

  • You don’t need much equipment to play badminton.

In this case, not much means enough, and that’s good because it means that┬ábadminton is inexpensive compared to, say, photography, which generally involves a lot of expensive equipment and therefore a lot of spending!