100 Grammar Points


74. Softener ちょっと

Many years ago, I found an example in a book of how Japanese can be direct or politely indirect. For example you can say:

1) こい! koi


2) あのう、すみません、たいへん恐れいれますが、ちょっとこちらへいらっしゃってくださいませんでしょうか?

Both mean “come here” but the second sentence is much more polite. It is cushioned by many soft, indirect words. One of these words is ちょっと.

ちょっと literally means “little” or “small amount” but it is often used to soften an otherwise painful “no” or sometimes it means, “your request is impossible; live with it”

muzukashi desu ga.
That’s a little difficult. (this may
be said when the request is impossible)


dekinai desu.
It can’t be done.


wakaranai desu.
I’m not really sure.

I have been told the sound chotto is a bad word in Korean. If that is the case, chotto may not be that soft of a word…

100 Grammar Points


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