Difference between 少し [sukoshi] and 少なく [sukunaku] ?

There are tons of posts asking for the difference of 少し [sukoshi] and 少ない [sukunai].

I know that 少し [sukoshi] is an adverb and 少ない [sukunai] is an adjective.

But the adverbial form of 少ない [sukunai] is 少なく [sukunaku], isn't it?

So, there are two adverbs for "a few", "a little" with the same kanji: 少し [sukoshi] and 少なく [sukunaku]

Is there a difference between 少し [sukoshi] and 少なく [sukunaku] ?

Does an adjective form of the adverb 少し [sukoshi] exist?

1 Answer 1


少なく is a te-/continuative form of the adjective 少ない. Although te-form works adverbially for most adjectives, it is not the case with 少ない. So when you want to say a little/a few adverbially, it should be 少し (at least as far as I can think of).

少なく will be appropriate when you mean less, in combination with する or なる (translation is literal):

  • 観光客が少なくなった Sightseers have become fewer.
  • 砂糖を少なくした (I) made (the amount of) sugar less.
  • もう少し生徒を少なくした方が授業がしやすい Teaching would be easier if (they) make (the number of) students a bit fewer.

少しの is the adjectival form of 少し in the sense of modifying nouns. E.g. 少しの勇気 = a little courage; 少しの時間 = a little time. (Note for countable nouns, 少しのX is not natural. 少ないX may be possible, but in most cases, 数+counter is used: 少ない猫 is odd; 数匹の猫 = a few cats).

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