So, of course, I know words like 多い, たくさん, 少ない, 少し, and 何+[counter]+か to express "many", "few", "a few", and "some" in most contexts. However, I have absolutely no idea what are the Japanese equivalents for these words when they're used on their own to mean people. Sure, 多い人, 少ない人, and 何人か do the job too, but I'm sure there must be some more refined way to say this as well, at least for the first two. Google isn't really a big help with this, since searches like "japanese many few" and "japanese grammar many people few people" only yield pages like "BEGINNER JAPANESE: How To Use OOI And SUKUNAI!!" etc.

For example, how would you translate these sentences into Japanese?

  • "Some were surprised, many were not."
  • "Few understand the value of health before they lose it."
  • "A few benefited from the loss of many."
  • "Many belittled the few who stood out."

3 Answers 3


For example,

There are some people in the park(幾人か(or 何人か)公園にいる).

There are many people in the park(たくさん(大勢)の人が公園にいる).

There are a few people in the park(数人が公園にいる).

There are few people in the park(公園にはほとんど人はいない).

I translated your examples as follows.

Some were surprised, many were not.(驚いた人もいたが、大半は驚かなかった。)

Few understand the value of health before they lose it.(健康を失う前にその価値を理解する人は少ない。)

A few benefited from the loss of many.(多くの人から搾取し、一部の少数の人が利益を得た。)

Many belittled the few who stood out.(多くの人が稀な傑出した人達を見くびった。)

I learned that "a few" means 少しはある and "few" means 少ししかない, ほとんどない.

  • 1
    A few benefited from the loss of many.(多くの敗北がためになった人はいないわけではない。) -- その loss は「敗北」って意味じゃなくて「損失」で、たくさんの人が損して、そのかわりに(そこから)少数の人が得した、って意味です。(うまく和訳できないけど。。ごめん)
    – chocolate
    Sep 8, 2019 at 2:38
  • Thank you for teaching. Sep 8, 2019 at 2:45

少数の人は驚いたが 多数は驚いていない





I would translate like this:

Some were surprised, many were not.


Few understand the value of health before they lose it.


A few benefited from the loss of many.


I'm not really sure with last one.

  • Hmm, I see your translations essentially translate around the words "some", "many", "few", "a few", and "the few", and I think the resulting senteces mean mostly the same thing, but not exactly. Do equivalents for these English contructions not exist in Japanese? By the way, I noticed the way you used ほとんど as the theme in 「ほとんどは呆然としていた」. Can one use ほとんど as a noun to mean "most", in the sense of "most people"?
    – Ranquil
    May 7, 2019 at 12:10
  • @Ranquil the word do exist but the idea would be expressed differently. That is why literraly translating usually does not work very well. And for the word ほとんど what you say is perfectly correct.
    – Daishi
    May 7, 2019 at 13:28
  • I checked a few of the words you used in your translations and did some digging around. Do you think these could match up to the words I asked about? - some : 何人【なんにん】か - many : 大勢【おおぜい】 - most : ほとんど - few/a few : 若干人【じゃっかんにん】
    – Ranquil
    May 7, 2019 at 14:05
  • @Ranquil 若干人 sounds strange. But the other suggestions are fine. 数人 should work for a few. I also realize that some and a few are very close.
    – Daishi
    May 7, 2019 at 14:55
  • 2
    Your last sentence (大勢の損が限られた人数に得した) makes no sense, and your other two examples are not natural, I'm afraid... (健康の大事差 should be a typo for 健康の大事 , by the way)
    – chocolate
    Jun 5, 2019 at 15:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .