How to say that I (or someone else) wants to do something less (for example I want to sleep less) in Japanese? What about I want to have less of something? (For example I want to eat less, or I want to have fewer problems.)

  • 1
    It really depends on what you're trying to say. (Heck, even English changes the words depending on the construction: less vs. fewer.) Is there something specific you're trying to say? Feb 17 '16 at 20:15
  • @EiríkrÚtlendi I was trying to say "I want to have less/fewer problems", but choco provided me with an answer already
    – Tribski
    Feb 19 '16 at 16:35
  • Sometimes in this situation I would use 控える。But I'm not sure if 控えたい is natural.
    – Chris
    Feb 23 '16 at 22:50
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    @Chris I think 食べる量を控えたい sounds natural. (睡眠時間を控えたい doesn't sound natural, and 問題を控えたい would make no sense, though.)
    – Chocolate
    Nov 23 '16 at 5:25

Literal translations such as 「(もっと/より)少なく + verb + したい」 would sound unnatural... There would be several ways to say that, but off the top of my head right now, I think you could probably use 「~を少なくしたい」 or 「~を減らしたい」, as in:

I want to sleep less. (lit. I want to decrease sleeping time.)

I want to eat less. (lit. I want to decrease eating amount.)

I want to have fewer problems. (lit. I want to decrease problems.)


less is a powerful English word which doesn't have a direct equivalent in Japanese for all cases. It depends on the action you're talking about. For sleep, you could say:


Gloss: Every day - more - shortly - want to sleep - eh

TL: "Man, I wish I could sleep less every day."

Here we see "more + adverb" that fits the verb (referring to time here).

Another way to get around this is to say something grammatically different but functionally the same (re: to have less of something):


Gloss: Clothing - a little - ought to reduce - eh

TL: I should really get rid of some of this clothing. (while inspecting one's overflowing closet, for instance)

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    No native speakers would say 「毎日もっと短く寝たいな。」. That just sounds SO unnatural (and 'translated').
    – user4032
    Feb 18 '16 at 9:07
  • I disagree. Can you offer an alternative? Feb 18 '16 at 15:43
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    ^「毎日の睡眠時間を / 寝る時間をもっと短くしたいな。」とかならいいかな、と思います・・・
    – Chocolate
    Feb 18 '16 at 16:51
  • ん、納得。Keep in mind the above example was to demonstrate grammar, not demonstrate what is natural. Notice neither my nor your example use a word directly mappable to less ;) Feb 19 '16 at 17:40

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