Specifically for when they mean "a little".
In what situations would they be used and are they completely interchangeable without any differences?

  • 3
    Hmm the only difference I can think of is, ちょっと sounds more colloquial than 少し.
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 11, 2012 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


It seems to be a lot about nuances.

It says that you can replace 少し with ちょっと in most cases but it's less common the other way around. Then it lists few examples when the sentence does not convey exactly the same meaning based on which one you use.

One of the example is from a book and it talks about the difference between 「ちょっと待ってね」 and 「少し待ってね」. The first one would be an egoist way of asking the people to wait, a bit vague, term that would be convenient for you. The other one with 少し would be apparently more accurate, easier to rely on and let the other person more likely to feel at ease/trust with you.

An other example is a case when you cannot really use 少し instead of ちょっと. The example is 「ちょっと、わかんない。」.

I am not sure I fully understand myself but what I understood so far is that 少し, compared to ちょっと, is ちゃんとした言葉 compared to ちょっと that would be a bit 適当 (sorry I don't find the words to explain that in english). This difference would be reflected especially when you ask someone to do something.

  • 4
    I don't agree with the explanation of the difference of ちょっと待ってね and 少し待ってね on that page.
    – user1016
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 14:13
  • we should try it at work
    – oldergod
    Commented Aug 17, 2012 at 14:50
  • Check out my explanation of 適当 here: howtojaponese.com/2009/11/18/cool-compound-tekitouni Also, ちょっと、わかんない seems like a different usage - the comma makes it sound like it's an interjection rather than an adverb that modifies わかる. Commented Aug 27, 2012 at 15:52
  • “This page” is gone.
    – Profpatsch
    Commented May 29, 2017 at 23:36

To a certain extent they are just different levels of politeness. Check the following:


少々(しょうしょう)> 少し > ちょっと

The phrases get longer the more polite they are. Also, I believe ちょっと is more of a spoken phrase than a written phrase.

  • 3
    I would more place it to formality than politeness, though the two do overlap. They can all be use with both polite and plain language, though I would hesitate to say ちょっと to strangers and superiors.
    – Angelos
    Commented Jan 4, 2016 at 20:45

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