How to use “Chotto” in Japanese?

chotto (excuse me!)

It is quite natural for a word to have multiple meanings in a certain language. In Japanese, too, a single word can have many meanings. One of the representative words is “chotto” ちょっと. It is normally written in hiragana. Chotto has so many different meanings, some similar and some opposite. It may sound complicated, but it is a very useful word. Japanese people probably use this word many time in a day. It is often used in conversations, but can be used also in writings. So let’s try to look and learn!

Chotto ちょっと

<1>【時間】(ほんの少しの時間)a minute, a second;(しばらく)some time, a while

chotto! (Wait!)
chotto! (Wait!)

ちょっと待ってください! Just a minute (second, moment), please!

ちょっと待ってよ! Wait a minute (second, moment)!≒Hold it!

このペン,ちょっと借りていい? Can I borrow this pen for a minute (while, moment)?

ひろしはちょっと前に家を出た Hiroshi left home a while (moment) ago.

ちょっとお時間をいただけますか? Could you spare me a minute?

今8時ちょっと前[過ぎ]だ It’s just before [after] eight (o’clock).

正午ちょっと前[過ぎ]に事件は起きた The incident happened shortly before [after] noon.

ちょっとくらい休憩しても問題ないだろう A little rest wouldn’t hurt.

<2>【数量】(少数)a few;(少量)a little;(数・量がいくらか)some

chotto (a little)
chotto (a little)

昼食にはサンドイッチをちょっと食べただけだ I had only a little bit of a sandwich for lunch.

なべにはシチューがちょっとだけ残っていた There was only a little stew left in the pan.

もうちょっとしょうゆを加えてください Please add a little more soy sauce.

寝る前にお茶をちょっと飲んだ I had some tea before going to bed.

この車は100万円ちょっとだった(→100万円より少しかかった) This car cost a little more than one million yen.

“Are five plates enough?” “I guess we need a few more.”

<3>【程度】(少し)a little;(わずかに)slightly;(かなり)rather

美奈子はフランス語がちょっと話せる Minako can speak French a little.

このズボンはちょっとウエストがきつい These trousers are a little tight in the waist.

先学期,成績がちょっと上がった My grades improved slightly last term.

きょうはちょっと暑い It’s rather (pretty) hot today.

このクロスワードパズルはちょっと難しい This crossword is rather difficult.

次の試合に彼が出られないのはちょっと痛い It’s pretty (quite) hard on us that he can’t play in the next game.

もうちょっとで(→ほとんど)電車に乗り遅れるところだった I almost missed the train.

私が言いたいのはそれとはちょっと違うのよ That is not exactly what I mean.

ちょっとでも間違えたら全部台なしだ One small mistake and everything will be ruined.

“Do you miss him?” “Kind (Sort) of.”


chotto (thinking)
chotto (thinking)

このレースでだれが勝つかはちょっと予想がつかない You can’t easily tell who will win this race.

彼女はちょっとやそっとでは君のことをあきらめないよ She won’t give up on you so easily.

彼がいつ戻ってくるかはちょっと(→はっきりとは)分かりません I’m not quite sure when he will be back.


chotto when angry
chotto when angry

ちょっと,僕の自転車に何してんの? Hey, what are you doing to my bike?

ちょっと!何か落としましたよ Hey! [(→すみません)Excuse me!) You dropped something.

ちょっと聞いてよ! Guess what!≒You know what?


ちょっとあいさつでもと思って電話したんだ I just called to say hello.

学校からの帰りに彼女の家にちょっと寄ってみた I dropped in at her house on my way back home from school.

この写真をちょっと見てごらん Just take a look at this photo.

ちょっと頼みがあるんだけど I have a (small) favor to ask.

ちょっとお願いしたいことがあるのですが May I ask you a favor?(◆In this way, “ちょっと” may not have a specific meaning.)

ちょっと聞きたいことがあるんだけど I would like to ask you something.

宿題は1時間ではちょっと終わりそうにない I’m afraid I can’t finish my assignment in an hour.

“What about going to karaoke tomorrow?” “Sorry, I can’t go with you tomorrow.”

“Did something good happen?” “Well, yes.”

“Are you going somewhere?” “Yes, to Tokyo station.”

Chotto can be transformed into “Chottoshita”. Chottoshita has a slightly different meanings. There are roughly two. Let’s take a look!

Chottoshita ちょっとした

<7>【小さな】small, minor, little

ちょっとした違い a minor difference 

ちょっとした誤解から論争が起きることもある A dispute can arise from a small (simple) misunderstanding. 

僕は香織にちょっとした贈り物をすることにした I decided to give Kaori a little (small) present. 

ちょっとした(→一瞬の)気のゆるみが重大な事故につながりかねない Momentary carelessness can cause a serious accident.


彼女はちょっとした考古学者だ She is quite an archeologist. ≒ She is something of an archeologist.

彼の絵はちょっとしたものだ His paintings are quite something.

祖父はちょっとした財産を持っている My grandfather has a small fortune.

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