Why is there a small っ in the word ひとりっこ as in only child?

Would the kanji version be: 一人っ子?


Edit: The correct question for this topic would be: Why is there a small っ in the word 一人っ子 as in only child, if there’s no hiragana in this word?


Yes it is ^^

ひとりっこ is just the reading :upside_down_face:, hence the small tsu

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But between the word 一人 and 子, separately, there is no consonant to be doubled, is there?

一人っ子 is just one word

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一人っ子 is the common way to write the word “only child”, and the reading is ひとりっこ (hitorikko)

It does have other forms, including 一人子 without the visible っ, but it still holds the reading ひとりっこ



I see guys. Thanks. I didn’t know there could be a small っ even if there was no consonant to be doubled. ありがとう!

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This is a good reminder that the spoken language is the primary thing, and that both spoken and written languages are not formal systems whose content can be derived merely by the logical application of rules.

If the Japanese speaking population, for whatever reason, generally pronounces that word with a glottal stop, and this then comes to be reflected in how the word is written, then that’s just the way it is. We, looking from the outside, don’t get to say “but that doesn’t comply with the rules”. :slight_smile:


I feel like you’ve been missing something that people are trying to tell you in this thread. While it is true you can have a small っ with nothing following, this is not one of those cases. There is a consonant being doubled, here - the K in 子.


Yeah, I’m not sure I understand what he’s conceiving it as.

Ok guys, you just made me realize something I had mixed up. The question should have been

Why is there a small っ in the word 一人っ子 as in only child, if there’s no hiragana in this word?

For example, when doing my WK reviews, I double consonants all the time as in the word :勝手, which means as one pleases but the small っ is not visible there and in many other words, unless you write the word in hiragana.

Also, I had seen cases where kanji is followed by hiragana where obviously the small っ is visible. Like in: 持ってくる。

I had just never seen a word completly written in kanji where the small っ was visible…

Ooo okay now I understand your confusion :laughing:

っ子 is an actual suffix meaning “-child”, so it’s seen attached to words to denote a characteristic about someone, and that small っ is built into the suffix


  • ひとりっ子 (your example) = 一人/ひとり + suffix っ子 --> only child
  • テレビっ子 = テレビ + っ子 --> a child who watches a lot of TV
  • おばあちゃんっ子 = おばあちゃん + っ子 --> a child who grew up liking/spending a lot of time with their grandma
  • 江戸っ子 = 江戸 + っ子 --> someone born and raised in Edo
  • いたずらっ子 = いたずら + っ子 --> mischievous child

I don’t think I’ve really seen any other examples of a small っ before a kanji, at least none that I can think of off the top of my head, but just know that in this instance っ子 is an actual suffix, and if anything the small っ you see is a visual representation that the consonant will be doubled when adding this suffix to something (i.e. you’re essentially adding “-kko” to a Japanese word). There aren’t necessarily any rules against seeing a small っ before a kanji or anything :thinking:


It’s also the first time for me that I see this. In my case it’s probably because I don’t have Kanji knowledge, only kana. Thanks for the explanation as well :smiley:


Aye, small っs can pop up between kanji all over the place, though it’s admittedly not exceedingly common. For example, the verb 引っ越す “to move house” (all though that, I guess, is a compound verb, which would usually have okurigana between the kanji anyway).


You’re right, sorry, my question was wrongly formulated :sweat_smile:

Thanks a lot! I think this solves it. I appreciate your help @MissMisc


I know, it’s the first time I see that so I was really confused. Thanks for your help!

Hey Leebo. Thanks for showing up in this question thread haha.

“I’m not sure I understand what he’s conceiving it as.”

So that’s why I didn’t get an answer from you this time right? haha sorry, I didn’t formulate a good question again :sweat_smile:

Hope you’re doing fine!

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Youll see 真っ a lot too.



You’re right! I had seen 真っ黒 before, I just hadn’t realized :sweat:

You’ve been of great help!