Kanji meaning 少

Hi. I reached level 3 recently and this particular kanji meaning (Few, A Little) is bugging me. English is not my native language. Maybe there is something I don’t understand but as far as I know it’s not the same thing. Few means “almost none” and kind of has a negative meaning and A Little means “some”. So what’s the meaning of this kanji exactly? Some or almost nothing?

English isn’t my native language as well.

In my understanding, the difference between a few and a little is it’s grammatical application. Rule of thumb here is countability:

A few sheep
A little rice.
But: A few grains of rice.

I’ve not heard of a difference in meaning, although someone native might give you more info on that aspect.

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I read it as few and a little. sukoshi

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Few generally means three (or a number close to it) and there’s no negative connotation. If you said “I ate a few cookies” it just means you had about three cookies.

Generally speaking though, kanji represent general ideas and may not have exact meanings. I don’t see much difference between “few” and “a little” conceptually, even if they are used differently grammatically.


I like what @seanblue had to say. If I were to build upon this information I would say that “a few” refers to a quantity while “a little” conceptualizes an amount.

I walked a few lapes around the track. (numerical value +/- 3)

I would like a little fudge with my ice cream. (concept of small amount not quantifiable)


In my head, the main difference between “few” and “some” is whether or not you can count whatever it is.

You can have some water, but not a “few” water, because you can’t counter how many water you have.
You can have some marbles, but you can also have a few marbles, because you can count how many marbles you have.

@WaniPanchi beat me to the more concise answer.

We had the same idea. Cheers!

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It’s both.

It’s a small amount. A little bit. And even beyond that, uncommon or seldom, such as in the word 希少 (きしょう, scarce, rare)

EDIT: I originally had a spiel about “few” in the negative sense, but I’ve removed it on further reflection that it’s not as clear as English. “I have few games” in English has a negative tinge, but 少ない is not as clear I think. 少ししかない or ちょっとしかない would actually be a clearly negative phrasing in Japanese, but requires extra grammar in combination.

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Or it could also be a small person.
少女 for example.

it’s a little girl instead of “few girl” cause they wouldn’t make much sense.

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Kanji dictionaries will usually list this meaning explicitly as わかい, young. But yeah, it does also mean that.



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