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  5. "とりが一わいます。"


Translation:There is one bird.

June 5, 2017



So this wa is not a particle? It is the count for birds? Ichiwa is one bird just like hitotsu would be used for other stuff?


Yup. The わ in this example isn't a particle but a counter for birds. Just remember particle wa is formally written as は unless you encounter someone who likes playing with words -- some ppl intentionally write は as わ online (Twitter, etc.).


Yes, wa is the counter for birds - for example: Niwa niwa niwa niwatori ga arimasu - "There are two chickens in the yard."


Lol. That example confuses more than it explains, but it was quite amusing. Had to stop and think for that one. XD


Hello, I am still relatively a beginner to Japanese, so I tried understanding your example sentence there (which is indeed creative and funny, by the way), but I am a bit confused by your ordering of the constituents and the extra "wa" in the phrase...it is hard to envision in romaji, so this is what I imagined the sentence should be: 庭に鶏が二わあります。("niwa ni niwatori ga niwa arimasu") Is the extra "wa" a は?So is it like saying, "(As for being) In the yard, there are two chickens there." ?? Understanding the usage of the particles is still driving me crazy sometimes... Thanks.


Your understanding is spot on! The sentence @MarkErdman wrote would be written 庭には二羽鶏があります (though it should actually be います instead).

The には particle simply emphasizes the fact that you're talking about the yard, and the fact there are two chickens in it. Without the は, the emphasis would be on the chickens, which happen to be in the yard.


The example is fantastic but I'm confused about one "niwa". :D

  1. Niwa = garden
  2. Niwa = には (regarding what's IN the garden)
  3. Niwatori = two birds

That should be enough, I reckon. How did we get the extra "niwa"?


The fourth "niwa" is part of a compound word - i.e. Niwa - "Garden" ni wa - "(located in)" niwa - "(counter for two birds)" niwatori - "chicken", bird of genus Gallus) ga imasu - "there are"

So if I can get the Japanese IME to work right:


I forget who originated this phrase - I used to be on a Japanese learning group on a USENET newsgroup, and one of the regular posters had "niwaniwaniwaniwatorigairu" as his signature at the end of his posts, so I just remembered it an example of Japanese homophones.

I remember reading a story about a poem in Mandarin once that was only the syllable "shi" spoken in different inflections that seems kind of similar to this.


There's also, in English, "Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo."


にわとり means chicken. There needs to be a の between 2わ and にわ鳥. OR you can move 2わ to between が and います.


にわ には 二わ のにわ鳥 がいます You need の between 2わ and にわ鳥, and います instead of あります.


Thank you, Ana. Can you say why, what the function of の is there?


の is helping the counter 2羽 modify the noun 鶏 (にわとり).


I see. Thank you so much. So it always goes: counter の noun? when it isn't: noun が counter verb, as we've been learning?


Yes, although the particle isn't always が. Could be を as in パンを1枚 食べます - I eat one slice of bread.


I hadn't ever heard of people using わ as the particle. Is there a particular reason they do it on Twitter?

...Oh God, is it a bird pun?


It's not a particle it is the suffix counter for winged creatures (birds) and apparently also for rabbits.


Is わ always used for "count" or are different words use for counting different things?


Nah, a lot of different things use different counters. Its daunting and difficult to remember all of them but you get used to it! Perhaps look up "japanese counter words"?


What... Lol. That's pretty funny. I'm not excited about having to memorize all of the different counter words.


I had a teacher tell us a ghost story about a maid two was killed for stealing plates. She could be heard at night counting the plates, sure that nothing was stolen... Ichimai... Nimai... Sanmai... Yonmai... Insert ghostly wails of despair. Ill never forget the counter for plates lol


Its not as bad if you consider that we do sort of have the same thing in english. Like slices of bread or ears of corn. Its not for everything thank god but we do do it.



Puts it in perspective, definitively. Like right now, I feel like there are so many irregular pronunciations with kanji, but come to think of it, English is fairly irregular as well.


Many different ones. E.g. "hon" for things ling thin things like pencils, carrots etc. "Satsu" for flat things like sheets if paper..... There are many counters.


I thought 冊 was just for books? Isn't 枚 for flat things like paper?


Yes, ~さつ is the suffix counter for books. while ~まい is the suffix counter for flat things like paper, slices of bread etc.


Excuse me, is it more word (わ) to count animal? I know that (ひき-use for count small animal) and (とう - use for count big animal), am I wrong ?


No, you're right, 匹 (ひき) is for small animals and 頭 (とう) is for large animals, but 羽 (わ) is specifically for birds and rabbits.


Rabbits apparently. Something to do with their ears being wing-like, or that's what I've heard.


no it actually had something you do with the rulers deciding that only birds could be eaten certain time period. But b/c of certain religion who ate rabbits, rabbits became classified as a "bird", to avoid conflict with the law and that religion. Hence (rabbits, classified as a "bird") use the counter for birds. In this way eating rabbit was not illegal.


I believe that the counter for little animals was hiki or iki 匹 or that kanji is only for little animals and わ is specifically for birds?


Yeah, 匹 (ひき) is for small animals, and 羽 (わ) is specifically for birds and rabbits.


The reason why わ can be used for birds and rabbits (兎、ウサギ、うさぎ, Japanese often write words for animals in katakana) is a long story. Buddhism has influenced Japan for a long time, and Japanese Buddhists are prohibited to eat meat of animals with four legs. But this was difficult for some people, so they proposed that "Rabbits have two long ears, these ears look like wings. So rabbits are birds, and we can eat them!" Actually the explanation is controversial, but this is a serious viewpoint www


Audio sounds like:

todi ga ichuua imas.

It's it correct, or a poor recording?
Japanese character/word pronunciation changes so much, especially with counters, that it's tough to figure out the correct pronunciation of some words.

Especially since DuoLingo's audio often is either wrong (incorrect "reading"), or it's "correct", but of poor quality.


I also often notice that it is pronounced wrong/poorly as well. So I just take it as a guideline and I use real Japanese people (on YouTube) to learn the pronunciation.

I also use anime as a listen exercise, but I am also aware that I shouldn't try to talk to people the way anime characters do.


It depends on the anime, of course. If you're watching the stereotypical action/fantasy shonen anime, then yeah, best to avoid emulating them.

But, if you're watching a drama or "slice of life" anime, many, if not all, of the characters tend to have completely normal everyday speech. They can be very helpful for understanding how things are used in context. Do be careful of characters who speak in regional dialects though; their speech is normal, for them, but it's not standard Japanese.


It may also help to know that the counter わ comes from 羽 meaning 'wing'.


How? Isn't 羽 feather anyway? Was always taught wing as つばさ(翼)


As a counter, the kanji 羽 is pronounced わ. Οn its own, 羽 is pronounced はね and means both 'feather' (it's most common usage) and 'wing' in the general sense (i.e. both birds and insects, but also on planes and fans), while 翼 is 'wing' only for feathered ones.


The blades of a fan or a propeller are called wings? And it also means feather? That's interesting. I get the feeling "feather" has a somewhat harder, sharper feel in Japanese - I've seen feathers depicted as weapons occasionally.


Nah, Alcedo. It's kind of more complicated than this. For example, a feather arrow is "矢羽",¹ and a "quill" (i.e. a "feathered" pen) is "羽根ペン"², so 翼 is not the only term used for feathered ones. Meanwhile, answering Boringjorn's question, an airplane wing (and aircraft in general) is a "翼"³. Both flying squirrel and thorny devil have no feather at all; anyway, they have 翼.

I'm not sure if there's a pattern at all. But maybe 翼 is the general sense because it seems more like a single symbol than the clear two wings of 羽, which would be used for specific wings. One example helps me to think this is the case; fan wings are "羽根" (which is the plural of "羽", but reads the same "hane"), but there's a type of fan called "多翼扇"¹¹ [lit. multi-wing fan, although I don't know it's proper name]; it description says it has 羽根 (not 翼), though.

I'm not 100% sure yet (I'm not a native), but I think general (tsubasa) x specific (hane) works here. I'm very close to 100% after looking at "鳥類" in Wikipedia¹². It says: "それでも現存する鳥類のすべての種がを持つが" [Still all species of existing birds have wing]. The articles uses "羽" and "羽毛" to refer to the feathers.

天使 [angel] article¹³ is even more helpful because I could find both 翼 and 羽 as "wing". Ex 1.: 今日の絵画では天使にが描かれることが多いが, 聖書には天使のに関する記述はなく [Although angels are often depicted as having wings in modern's paintings, there is no mention of angel wings in the Bible]. Ex 2.: "多数の羽根を持つケルビム" [A cherubim with many wings].






¹³ https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/天使


True, it's indeed more complicated (it's Japanese after all), but since the majority of people here are either already studying Japanese properly (and thus only seem to complain about lack of kanji) or are so new that they're still struggling with hiragana (and thus shouldn't be trying to "learn" Japanese on Duolingo, i.m.o.), I figured it wasn't worth delving into to the extent that we're discussing flying squirrels and such. That being said, I appreciate the in-depth comment with links!

Still, I'm not sure as to what your point was (other than it's complicated / exceptions exist), since the fact that "feather arrow" and "feather pen" have the word "feather" in it is pretty much in line with my previous comment and the Wiki quote seems to confirm it too: birds' wings are 翼, feathers are 羽.

For reference, the actual dictionary - the 広辞苑(こうじえん)- lists 翼 in the sense of "airplane wing" only as option no.4 in which case it is not pronounced as つばさ anymore (like NeonMarkov initially 'asked') but rather as よく.


I had no point at all. I was just curious when I read your affirmation that "はね means ... 'wing' in the general sense" and "翼 is 'wing' only for feathered one". (For me, it appears to be the other way round.) By chance, I was listening to "Zankoku na Tenshi no Teeze" and the lyrics say at some point: "Hane ga aru koto". I then just wondered about it and did some research (and then wanted to share).

Wow, interesting about the "yoku" pronunciation. I didn't know it. So yet another word for wing. More complicated haha. Aircraft-related terms appear to frequently use the "yoku" reading. I've just found that "airfoil" is "翼型" [yokugata] and "wingspan" is "翼幅" [yokufuku]. Always learning!


Tbh, I only found out about the よく pronunciation because your descriptions made me double check the dictionary. So yeah, always learning! Thanks for the extra vocab.


Why is there a word for counting birds? Do all nouns have a special word for counting them? If not what makes birds special? What the heck is going on?


All nouns need a counting word, I think, but there is not a separate counting word for each noun. Indeed, for some nouns, I believe more than one counting word can be used, with varying meaning. They are a kind of category. So, for instance, I might say five "sheets" of paper or six "lumps" of coal, but I could not talk about lumps of paper or sheets of coal. Honestly, I don't know how anyone could learn these things without hearing them or reading them on a daily basis. Anyway, I think the Wikipedia article here presents a discussion that at least gives me some sense of it. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_counter_word


It's definitely easier learning and remembering them living in Japan. For some reason I found they seemed so much more logical when living in Japan. Regular use maybe? I think they're kind of cool and help to clarify what you're counting.


I just found out, if anyone is confused: あります [arimasu] is used for an inanimate object, like a yard [にわ] and います [imasu] is used for animate objects, like a person [じん or 人]. Because a bird [とり] is a living, moving, breathing thing, they use います. Because a yard [にわ] is not, they use あります.


わ is the counter used for birds and, weirdly, rabbits.


That category makes sense to me, if I am cooking them.


You mean... "Tastes like chicken"?


Japanese people always told me that it was because "Rabbits' ears look kind of like wings," but I'm not sure if that's an actual explanation or just a rationalization after the fact for a weird grammar point. XD


Somewhere...possibly in this thread, someone explained that it was a "legal" rationalisation (an exception!) where rabbits were deemed honorary birds so that Japanese people would be allowed to eat them. Not sure what the reason for not being allowed to eat rabbits was or why birds were so special by comparison.


What should be the correct pronounciation? Ichiwa or Hitoriwa?


The correct pronunciation is いちわ


ひとり is only meant for counting a person.


And ひとり written in kanji is 一人 which helps it make sense :)


Actually, ー人 (read hitori, ひとり), referes on counting humans, it is different from ーつ (hitotsu, ひとつ)... This is due to the kanji jin 人, that means something like human or person, don't know exactely... But consider taking a look on hitotsu and hitori counting, just for the know!


人間 (にんげん) is the word for human.


I thought にん 人 was for counting people


It is, but 一人 and 二人 have the irregular pronunciations, ひとり and ふたり respectively.


にんげん is the word for human. Just incidentally にんじん is the word for carrots - not to be confused with the word for human ; )


一人 is the kanji for ひとり - one person, so it would not be used for いちわ


FYI, a lot of you are getting this marked wrong because you typed dash (ー) instead of いち(一). They look almost exactly the same, but they are actually not the same character, and the system will not register this correct if you type a dash instead of properly entering the kanji for "1."


Given the context you know 一 is being used as a one and not a vowel extender. However If in some instance you wanted to avoid confusion would you be able to use 1 or 壱?


1 (like other numerals) is a fairly common substitute, so you could use that, but 壱 is rare. I believe it's only used on official documents (e.g. in important dates) or on checks (e.g. in writing 壱万円).


"There is a chicken" should be accepted. If とり is written in Kanji as 鳥 then it means bird, while if 鶏, it means chicken.


No, in this context, とり would only mean "bird". The word for "chicken", 鶏, is pronounced にわとり.

とり only means "chicken" when it is in compound words which refer to chicken meat, for example 焼き鳥 (やきとり, lit. "cooked bird").


Oh, so chicken is a “garden bird”. Neat.


So とりにく would always refer to chicken. Could you say the same thing while referring to another bird, by using the generic 鳥 kanji?


What kind of pattern is there for subject markers? I've noticed that some words useが and others use は as markers, but I can't figure out what uses which.


It is not that some nouns take one particle and some take the other. Rather, these have a slightly different meaning. The particle ga indicates essentially what we would call the subject, although the subject of the verb can often be something we would not expect. The wa particle is often called the topic, so it has a much more general meaning, something we might not even think of as a grammatical category. It is often actually the subject of the verb, but it can also be the object or an instrument or a number of other things. I sometimes think of it as something like "as for X" so "As for X, it is big" or "As for X, it swims," but also "As for X, we eat it" or "As for X, I hit the ball with it." I don't know whether that makes it any clearer, but it does help me.


Why isn't 1 pronounced hito here, since it's being used to count?


The ひと pronunciation is an exception that only occurs with the general counter つ (i.e. 一つ = ひとつ) and for people (一人 = ひとり)

For all other counters it's just いち. In some cases that's contracted, like for 一個 (いっこ)or 一本(いっぽん), but it remains the same in principle.


Can bird be バード

If so, can this be 「バードが 1 わいます」


Strictly speaking, "bird" can be バード, but it is only generally used that way in other loanwords like バードウォッチング ("bird-watching") or バードサンクチュアリ ("bird sanctuary"). Japanese people may be more likely to use it this way when speaking to foreigners, but it isn't a part of typical usage.

It's also worth noting that バード can be (and probably is more commonly used as) "bard", as in a common character class in RPG games.


Why is it not "I have one bird"? The い in the last lesson meant do you have Also there's a counter just for birds and rabbits? Japan I don't understand you


You're right - it can also mean that. Yes - there is! : ) Someone explained somewhere (maybe on this thread) that a law change was made to make rabbits sort of honorary birds so that it would be ok to eat them? And that's why the counter is for birds and rabbits. I think it's up near the top somewhere.


Can this also be translated as. There is a bird?

Since, in English "a bird" literally means "1 bird", And cannot be used for 0, or 2 or more, or fewer?


Yes, and no. Technically it would be correct. But if you say that then Duolingo wouldn't know if you understand what this means.

Let's translate it from Japanese to English and back to Japanese and see what happens:

とりが一わいます -> There is one bird. -> とりが一わいます.

とりが一わいます -> There is a bird. -> とりがいます.

Since the Japanese sentence specifies that there is one bird it should also be specified in the English translation. If the number of birds didn't matter then they wouldn't have specified that there was one.


Is 一わとりがいますcorrect?


If you include the possessive particle の, then yes: 一羽(いちわ)の鳥(とり)がいます


I put in 'It is one bird." and it failed. It said I used the wrong word, "It's a bird." and now it says the translation is "There is one bird." I am so confused...


"It is one bird" is incorrect because います means "to be/to exist", so とりが一わいます literally becomes "bird (=とりが) one object (=一わ) exists (=います)". In normal English, that is "One bird exists" or "There is one bird".

Note that a bird existing is different from equating a specific thing "it" to "one bird". To do that in Japanese, you would need to say (それは)一わのとりです.

As for the "It's one bird" correction, I suspect that is a bug resulting from Duo's software recognizing that "It's" can sometimes be "it is" or "it has". As @Pavel_Greshnykh noted just recently, "I have a bird" is (correctly) accepted by Duo. This sentence, とりが一わいます, can indicate ownership because there isn't a topic specified (by a は), so it can be implied and the particle が becomes the complement particle. So if you say (それは)とりが一わいます, it means "one bird exists for it", which can be interpreted as "one bird exists among its possessions" or in more natural English, "It has one bird".


とり bird が topic marker 一 one わ counter for birds います there is


が is the subject marker ;)


Shouldn't the third character be pronounced as "ga"? It's the "ka" symbol with the thing that looks like a quotation mark (I have no idea what it's called or if it even HAS a name), doesn't that make the "K" sound into a "g" sound? Am I mistaken?


Yes - the tenten makes it into a g sound.


羽 - wa - for counting birds.


Maybe it's just me, but I'm hearing the "ga" particle after tori being slurred into a "wa" sound, is that how the sentence is supposed to be pronounced or should I use the "ga" sound when pronouncing this sentence?


I hear it pretty clearly as "ga", though it is pretty fast and I am comfortable with listening to native-speed Japanese. It may also be your listening device or which version of Duo you're using (desktop, Android, or Apple) too.

That said, the Japanese "g" tends to sound quite nasal, like "ng", to English speakers, although this varies by person and by region. As for how you should pronounce it, I would recommend listening to as many native speakers as you can and copy them. In the meantime, just a regular English hard "g" sound will do.


とり is mostly used to refer to chicken, so I got confused when it said there is one bird. I know that is correct, but then what is "chicken" supposed to be??


鳥・とり can be used for chicken but it also means just birds in general.

鶏 ・にわとり ("yard bird") is the specific word used for domestic chickens

I agree though I don't think "chicken" should be counted wrong, since either kanji can be used to mean chicken and both can be pronounced the same.


とり is used for birds in general, 鶏肉 for chicken (ie. meat), にわとり for chicken.


why the particle "wa" using ,わ not は as usual?


The わ here is not a particle but a suffix counter used specifically for counting birds and rabbits. Also, now its position - after the number one いち (一) and directly before the noun - it's clearly not the particle 'は'.


Does quantity always have to be accounted for? For example, in Chinese, there must always be a measure word present whether there is more than one of object or not.


It depends only on whether or not the exact quantity is relevant to the sentence you're trying to say. Consider the following:

  • There is a bird here = ここはとりがいます
  • There are birds here = ここはとりがいます
  • There is one bird here = ここはとりが一わいます
  • There are five birds here = ここはとりが五わいます
  • There are more birds here = ここはとりがより多くいます (より - "more than", 多い【おおい】- "many", より多く - "comparatively many")
  • Are there birds here? = ここはとりがいますか?
  • How many birds are here? = ここはとりが何わいますか?(何 - "what", 何わ - "what number of birds")
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