Because in English little generally refers to height or abstract quantity (the girl is little, I will have a little wine). While we can talk in English about most things as being little (because English is not too restrictive here) in French you would not.
This is confusing to me. Are there separate words in French for "little" and "small"? And is one likely to take the wrong meaning from "petit" in context?
- French "petit" = English "small" or "little"
- English "big" = French "gros" or "grande"'
When translating "petit" into English your choice of little/small depends on the subject. This is the same as how when we translate "big" into French we choose gros/grand depending on the thing we are talking about.
Hope that helps.
The only way you can tell the difference is to listen to the definite article.
The lemon - Le citron (the "le" sounds like "luh")
The lemons - Les citrons (the "les" sounds like "lee")
Or if the determiner is 'des', you immediately know it's plural. Be sure to know when to use 'de' instead (when there is an adjective preceding the noun).
Which is more common for lemon in French: lemon or citron? Is there a way to tell which to use? Or are they totally interchangeable?
"Lemon" is not a French word. However, in Quebec French, they do use the English term "lemon curd" to describe a certain dessert.
How do I say lime, then? I really never know the difference (not in english, nor french, not even in portuguese :/)
Both of them are plural but "petits" is masculine and "petites" is feminine.
I'm getting a sense that you believe you are being treated unfairly, am I right? Your sentence shows that you may not have given due diligence to spelling (I counted three errors in one sentence). So you might be able to make some real progress by paying a little more attention to detail.