Is there a relationship between these two words (since they sound similar)? I always try to look at roots , meanings, and suffixes, like I do in other languages. Or is this just a coincidence ?

작다 - small

적다 - to be few?

  • As a Korean, I think you are 100% correct. The pronuciation is related I think no coincident.
    – Chan Kim
    Commented Jan 7, 2023 at 22:00

1 Answer 1


적다 means a few, a little. It can apply to a small amount of anything (countable or not doesn't matter).

To Koreans, 작다 and 적다 are very close concepts since a little or a few of something will have a small volume or count, so it's no coincidence that the two words sound similar. There are cases where you can even use the two interchangeably, like 작은 양 and 적은 양. 적은 양 would be the correct way but if you want to emphasize the visual aspect of it, you might use 작은 양. The point is: 작은 and 적은 are almost like two sides of the same concept.

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