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What is the difference between the use of "un poco de" and "un poco"?
Why can't we say "Es un poco de moreno"(He has a little dark skin.) but "Es un poco moreno."??

Could you please provide some examples to expain?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Poco can be an adjective, a noun or an adverb. Leaving the adjective use aside:

  • When it is a noun, the usage is un poco de + noun: un poco de agua, un poco de arena...
  • When it is an adverb, it's un poco + adjective: poco alegre, poco moreno...

So I'd say it's like the English "a little + adjective" vs "a little bit of + noun".

The Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas has a more detailed answer

So, in your example, "moreno" is an adjective, so it goes with "un poco".

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muchas gracias! – Cadenza Feb 7 '12 at 13:22

"Un poco de" is an "adverb of quantity." E.g. "Un poco de agua" (a little bit of water).

"Un poco moreno" (a little brown or dark).

Moreno is an intangible quality that is NOT "quantified," and therefore we omit the de. On the other hand, water is quantified, so we use the de.

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