If I wanted to say something like "He looks like his brother," I might say 「彼はお兄さんみたいです。」or 「彼はお兄さんのようです。」

But what if I wanted to say that he looks "a little" like his brother? Would I simply add a 少し to the above sentences? (E.g., 彼は少しお兄さんのようです。) Is that grammatical, seeing as there is no verb or adjective for 少し to modify?

  • 1
    Is that grammatical, seeing as there is no verb or adjective for 少し to modify? 副詞 can modify various parts of speech. ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/… ・ kokugobunpou.com/… 副詞 can even modify nouns. eg 「 もっと上を探しなさい」「 はるか昔の事件」
    – Chocolate
    Aug 20, 2017 at 16:32
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    少し in 彼は少しお兄さんみたいです is definitely an adverb, not a noun. 少し as a noun (名詞/転成名詞) should be followed by a (case) particle, as in 「あと少しを残すところとなりました。」「一週間と少しが過ぎましたが、・・・」, as you already know, of course.
    – Chocolate
    Aug 21, 2017 at 13:43

2 Answers 2


If you mention "His face looks like his brother", you should say 彼はお兄さんに似ている(or 彼はお兄さんにそっくりだ). If you want to add "a little", it would be 彼は少し(ちょっと)お兄さんに似ている.

彼はお兄さんみたいです and 彼はお兄さんのようです would be interpreted as "He seems to be (someone's) elder brother" or "His existence(or character) is like a elder brother".


(1) 彼はお兄さんのようです。

If you want to add a meaning of "a little" to the given sentence, it will become as:

(2) 彼は少しお兄さんのようです。

So, your attempt is perfect in the sense of adding a little to (1).
But, for the given sentece, we usually say 彼はお兄さんに似ている or 彼はお兄さんにそっくりだ for "He looks like his brother" as is said in Yuuichi Tam's answer.

And if you want to add a nuance of "a little" to them, you can say 彼はお兄さんに少し似ている but you can't say 彼はお兄さんに少しそっくりだ.

Is that grammatical, seeing as there is no verb or adjective for 少し to modify?

Yes, that is grammatically correct.

No verb or adjective is needed to modify for 少し in this case, because it is considered to be a noun, more precisely a "転成{てんせい}名詞{めいし} transformed noun".

By the way, transferred noun is what I translated literally, not an established term.

A "Transformed noun" is a noun made by changing a word of other part of speech.

As for 少し, if "少し" is a noun it is literally interpreted like "a small degree".

"少し" becomes an "adverb" or a "noun" depending on whether there is an object to be qualified like in the following examples. (Source)

  • 「この服{ふく}は少し大{おお}きい」⇒副詞 adverb
  • 「車{くるま}を少し動{うご}かす」⇒副詞 adverb
  • 「少しの間{あいだ}待{ま}っていてください」⇒名詞(転成名詞) noun
  • 「少しはできるようだな」⇒名詞(転成名詞) noun
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    If 少し is acting as a noun in my sentence, shouldn't I need to interpose a の between 少し and お兄さん (e.g. 少しのお兄さんのよう)? Aug 20, 2017 at 13:54
  • @Lightweaver: No, you need not. As I said above, your attempt is perfect. To tell you the truth, almost all Japanese including me don't know 少し in the given sentence is a noun. We use it just as in your attempt without knowing the grammatical meaning of it.
    – mackygoo
    Aug 20, 2017 at 14:04

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