If you want to say in German, "I speak a little German", you would say,

Ich spreche ein wenig Deutsch.

The phrase "ein wenig" is reminiscent of the English phrase "a little", but what is interesting about "ein wenig" is that it is not an adverb proper. It belongs to a different class called an adverbial.

How would you classify the English phrase "a little"? Is it also an adverbial? And how would you classify the word "little" (in this usage) on its own? It does not seem to be an adverb here.

  • 1
    Ich spreche ein wenig Deutsch. is more akin to "I speak German a little." Aug 30, 2017 at 0:11
  • 2
    If @MarkBeadles is correct, then ein wenig Deutsch is not a constituent, whereas a little German is. Consequently, a little is a determiner (actually a phrase formed from an article and a quantifier), and not an adverb at all. German is being treated as a quantified noun, like a lot of German, not quite all German, an extremeliy small amount of German, a few phrases in German, and the like.
    – jlawler
    Aug 30, 2017 at 16:45
  • I think "ein bisschen" is the most common usage in this case, not "ein wenig"
    – xji
    Sep 11, 2017 at 13:29


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