Lesson#4 – Numbers
Since in the examples in the previous lesson there were numbers… let’s take the chance to study them 🙂
kanji – arab number – romaji
零/◯ 0 zero, rei
一 1 ichi
二 2 ni
三 3 san
四 4 yon / shi
五 5 go
六 6 roku
七 7 shichi / nana
八 8 hachi
九 9 kyuu
十 10 juu
For numbers bigger than 10 is still easy.
11 it’s like 10 (juu)+ 1 (ichi)—> juuichi
12 –> 10 + 2 —>juuni
number bigger than 20 are writed as (digit)juu + (digit)
20 is 2(ni) x 10(juu) nijuu
21 is like 2(ni) x 10(juu) + 1 (ichi) —>nijuuichi
162—> 100 + 6x10 + 2 –>hyakurokujuuni
200 is like 2(ni) x 100 (hyaku) —>nihyaku
1000–>sen — > 千
2000 is like 2(ni) x 1000(sen) –>nisen
10000–>ichiman (this is an exception) –> 一万
20000–> 2(ni) x 10000(man) –> niman
25639 –>二万五千六百三十九—> nimangosenrokuhyakusanjuukyuu
Writing numbers using kanji is terrible and nowaday it’s not used anymore but they may be used for little numbers, so you better study these kanji anyway. And of course, learn how to read them cause also numbers written with arabic numeral are read in japanese
Once you understand it.. it’s really easy!
The problem is that these numbers are NEVER used alone (Only while counting.. 1,2,3,4.. ichi, ni, san, yon..).
Otherwise they are always followed by “counters”. Unfortunately there are A LOT of different counters. you have to choose them depending on what you are counting and add them to the number.
here some of them:
nin 人 People
sai 歳 Years of age
kai, gai 階 Number of floors, stories
byō 秒 Seconds
fun, pun 分 Minutes
gatsu 月 Months of the year.
ji 時 Hours of the day
jikan 時間 Hour-long periods
ka 日 Day of the month
kagetsu ヶ月, 箇月
nen 年 Years, school years (grades)
shū 週 Weeks
ban 番 Position, turn, sports matches
do 度 Occurrences, number of times, degrees of temperature or angle.
kai 回 Occurrences, number of times
dai 台 Cars, bicycles, machines, mechanical devices, household appliances
hai, pai, bai 杯 Cups and glasses of drink
hiki, piki, biki 匹 Small animals, insects, fish, reptiles, amphibians
tō 頭 Large animals
hon, pon, bon 本 Long, thin objects
ko 個, 箇, 个, or ヶ General measure word, used when there is no specific counter
mai 枚 Thin, flat objects:
satsu 冊 Books
So if you are counting students you have to use the counter for person “nin”, if you are counting dogs you have to use “hiki”, if you are counting bears you have to use “tou”.
If you want to talk properly and don’t look like a kid.. you have to learn them.
When there isn’t a specific counter or you don’t remember it you can use the generic counter “ko” or the japanese numeral.
Japanese numeral is from 1 to 10 only:
1 一つ hitotsu
2 二つ futatsu
3 三つ mittsu
4 四つ yottsu
5 五つ itsutsu
6 六つ muttsu
7 七つ nanatsu
8 八つ yattsu
9 九つ kokonotsu
10 十 tō
Here some examples:
kinou watashi wa inu o gohiki mita
yestersay i saw 5 dogs (きのう–>kinou–>yesterday 犬–>inu–>dog 五匹–>gohiki–> 5 + counter for little animal 見た–>mita–>saw)
kare wa sanji ni eki ni tsuku hazu desu
he should arrive at the station at 3 o’clock (三時–>3 + counter for hours 駅–>eki–>station 着く–>tsuku –>arrive はずです—> hazu desu–> a way to express uncertainty)
There is another bad news for you.. there are a lot of exceptions
For example, when counting persons you have to use the counter “nin” right??
But 1 person is not said ichinin… but hitori!
2 persons is not ninin… but futari!
or 20 years old is not nijuusai.. but hatachi!
And it’s not over! there are also many euphonic changes!
for example, ichi when is followed by a counter that starts with “k” becomes “ik”.. so “first floor” is not “ichikai” but “ikkai”.