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I was recently told by a native speaker that both of these sentences are correct:

ちょっとしか時間がないから行けない
ちょっとの時間しかないから行けない。

Does where the しか attach not matter in this case? I feel like the meaning of both sentences are essentially the same. Perhaps, its like the difference between the English sentences "I only have a little time" and "I have a little time only"?

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    Pretty much like that. How much is "I have a little time only" a natural English sentence? May 17 '21 at 15:35
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It doesn’t change the meaning, but the first sentence sounds much more natural. The problem with the second sentence is not so much the position of しか as the noun phrase ちょっとの時間. It seems to me like a clumsy translation of “(a) little time”.

It sounds much less unnatural when used with で as in the following example, though.

ちょっとの時間で済ませる。

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  • If you wouldn’t mind a follow up question, would changing の to した in that second sentence make it any more natural? Also, do you have any idea why it is less unnatural with で?
    – Shurim
    May 17 '21 at 6:49
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    @Shurim: No, ちょっとした時間 in the second sentence would make it sound even more awkward. ちょっとした has the implication of “insignificant” or “not fully worth”. As for the reason the third sentence sounds OK, I think it is because ちょっと is an adverb and ちょっとの時間で still works as an adverbial phrase. The second sentence, on the other hand, demands a noun where ちょっとの時間 is used.
    – aguijonazo
    May 17 '21 at 7:42

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