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  5. "とりが七わいます。"


Translation:There are seven birds.

June 8, 2017



In Japanese there are usually two pronunciations for each number: one based on native Japanese and one borrowed from Chinese. According to one reference, the alternative pronunciation of 7 is なな from the native Japanese version.

Also, a number is usually followed by a counter (sometimes called a classifier). In this case, わ is counter for counting birds.


It's also worth noting that pronouncing 4 as shi and 7 as shichi is sometimes avoided, because "shi" means death.


I never quite bought that.

"Shi" means a whole lot of other things besides death, depending on context.


in japanese culture, the number 4 is highly avoided as it's more of a cultural belief to bring misfortune. it's like 13 in america but they sometimes completely skip writing the number 4 when counting parking spaces, elevator levels ec.


Guido Mista style


I mean, not really?

Shi as a singular 'piece' (for lack of a better word), usually accompanies another character to create words that include shi in their pronunciation. Shi on its own is always either 'death' or 'four'. If you're thinking of shimasu- "to do", its dictionary form is "suru", it changes because of the ~masu. Even Shinjuku or Shibuya are broken down by shin + juku and shibu + ya respectively, even though they both have "shi" in them.

It's a homonym (defined as two words spelt the same that have different meanings).Shi as four is 四 and shi as death is 死.

Same as hana, means both flower and nose. Hanashimasu (hanasu in dictionary form) can't be broken down into "hana"- nose/flower and "shimasu"- to do. That's just not how it works.


It depends on your definition of "a whole lot", but "shi" does mean many other things besides "four" and "death". On its own, you can have:

  • 市【し】city
  • 氏【し】honorific suffix
  • 詞【し】lyrics/a style of Chinese poetry
  • 詩【し】poetry/a verse of poetry

The examples you picked of Shinjuku and Shibuya, while valid, are extremely cherry-picked to prove your point. Here are a few examples of "shi" being included in words without meaning "four" or "death":

  • 指導【しどう】guidance/coaching; broken down as 指【し】finger/indicate and 導【どう】conduct
  • 試食【ししょく】food sampling; broken down as 試【し】test/experiment and 食【しょく】food
  • 監視【かんし】observation/surveillance; broken down as 監【かん】official/administration and 視【し】vision
  • 資料【しりょう】documents; broken down as 資【し】resources/data and 料【りょう】materials

Just to name a few. In fact, you'll find that 死 "death" is more often used in this kind of kanji combination, for example 死刑【しけい】"death penalty", rather than on its own.


I'd like to point out that both 市 and 氏 are usually used as suffix for the ends of words- not really words themselves. 詞 also is a piece of lyrics, the full word is kashi - 歌詞. And finally, 指 on its own is pronounced yubi, not shi.

But also, cool I've now learned some new things that I didn't know before!


So, yiu are telling me that there is a counter specific for birds? Is it a counter for anything else or just birds?


Oh my god, if you haven't yet encountered the horrors of counters, count your lucky stars (without any need of counters!)

羽 (わ) is a counter for birds and rabbits! Most other small-ish animals use the counter 匹 (ひき), larger animals such as cows or elephants use 頭 (とう). The counter for people is 人 (pronounced にん).

There are loads of other counters for different kinds of objects too which you just have to memorize... (; ̄ー ̄A


When I first heard about the many types of counters, I thought it was a crazy amount for people to learn, and very different from English. But we do a lesser version of the same thing: you have three loaves of bread, but you don't have three loaves of cake; you can have three cakes of soap, though.

I wanted to use "flock" as the example, which I think just applies to birds and sheep, but of course three flocks of birds doesn't mean three birds, so it's not exactly a fair comparison.


Ooohhh..... I see you...


We use unique counters in English for fractionated things. If the cake is full - 2 cakes. If not, 2 slices of cake. 2 boxes of paper, 2 sheets of paper. Really though, we don't have many. For animate objects though we have a bunch of synonyms for group. Pack of dogs, murder of crows, a troop of apes, army of ants, colony of bats, pod of dolphins... There's so many you'll never use


Hahaha normally I would think that's a joke but I know now in Japanese everything is possible! Thank you

  • 1227

I think there are over 200 in Vietnamese (though typically a much smaller subset is in regular use) and I'm sure Chinese and Japanese have a similar number.


At least i won't have to ask what I'm counting lol


Are rabbits counted exclusively using the わ counter or can the ひき counter also be used for counting rabbits?


Yes and that is the case also in chinese. You think -s or -ies are difficult? We have difficult counters for different type of things, sometimes two or three type of counters for an animal...


Ia there a reason it just has 七 and not 七つ? I thought when describing a "number of things" you used 〜つ


Actually, it's not just 七, but 七わ. つ is just a general counter for non-specific things. But there is a specific counter for birds: 羽 (わ). Thus, 七わ means "seven birds", whereas 七つ just means "seven things". It's not incorrect, but generally, if you have a more-specific counter it's better to use that instead of つ.


But if he doesn't know the counter it would be safest to say 七つ, wouldn't it? Especially as a foreigner, he's probably not expected to know every single counter there is (not saying they shouldn't be studied though)


Yes, absolutely, in a pinch, when you forget, or when you're in doubt use the つ counter. Typically you can pick up meaning from context. It's not like you'd say とりが七ついます and they'd think, "As for those birds, there are 7 dogs" or something; it's clear from context you're talking about the 7 birds. As a foreigner in Japan, you're given a lot of leeway, and most people will appreciate you putting in any effort. After all, isn't the goal of learning and using a new language to be understood?

That said, problems will arise if it's not clear from context. Take this sentence: トイレは三つです. The washroom is...three objects? Huh??? Probably a little clearer if you use the floor counter, 階 (かい). トイレは三階です。 Now it's clear you're saying the washroom is on the third floor.

And if you are in a hurry to catch a flight and you tell the taxi driver it leaves in just 1 object, will they understand?

And while I have no personal experience, I suspect no one would like to be referred to as an object, so when counting people you should use 人 (にん), not つ.

So, really, while you're still learning Japanese, learn as many counters as you can; certainly the everyday common ones.


Is there a counter for Mississippi?


The Mississippi River? Rivers are counted using 本【ほん】for long, thin, cylindrical(-ish) things ;)


In English, people sometimes count by going "1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, etc." as a way to make each number take approximately one second to say and therefore be able to measure time. Is there something like this in Japanese?


But how to pronounce 七わ? (7 wa) (7 + counter for birds)


So あります is for objects and います for living things?


Exactly. Also animals are considered living while plants are not.


I would think of it more as animate vs inanimate.


Interestingly, 羽 is the counter for rabbits too, supposedly because buddhist monks loved the taste of rabbit so much they classified rabbits as flightless birds so they could eat them. There are other theories too, but I like the monk one best.


Hypocrisy at its finest


Why is the particle が used here instead of は ?


が is a subject marker but also answers the silent questions. は is a topic marker.




Why is it shichi when i click it but nana when she says it


Both are correct ways to say 7 but you use one pronunciation over the other in a given context.


so, what is the defining context here? wa counter? how to know when to use shichi and when nana?


The counter define it. Nana wa is how it is said. Other counters have their exceptions


The counter is the defining context. If there is no counter or any other part of speech that affects it then the pronounciation is pretty much up to you


Wait, so there are seven birds of birds? Could I just say 七わいます?


Not really.. Even when わ is used as a counter solely for birds you have to use the subject.. Some of the counters are not just for one thing but can be for example for all small things.. There are counters also for general things, long cylindrical things, small compact things, large animals,etc...


So can I use nana and shichi interchangeably?


Not exactly. Which one you use depends on the sounds and characters around it, mostly what comes after it. For example:

  • 七わ = ななわ = seven (birds)
  • 七時 = しちじ = seven o'clock
  • 七日 = なのか = seven days, day seven
  • 十七日 = じゅうななにち = seventeen days, day seventeen
  • 七十 = ななじゅう = seventy

But, there's no real rhyme or reason to it unfortunately; you just get used to what sounds "normal".


Are you sure about that? I remember reading in one of my books that they usually can be used interchangeably, except in a few specific cases including しち時、ななつ, and a couple others... I wonder if it's explicitly wrong to switch them up, or if it just sounds unnatural?


Indeed it is ok to say しちわ/ななわ, しちこ/ななこ, しちさつ/ななさつ. I prefer なな over しち though because しち is easily confused with いち and ちgenerally sounds worse with the subsequent sound. e.g. いっさつ but しちさつ where the ち and さ do not blend well.


That's why I said "not exactly". In theory, it isn't explicitly wrong to switch them up, but from my experience, the cases where both しち and なな sound equally natural are the exceptions, not the rule. In the vast majority of cases, one sounds significantly more natural than the other, typically for the reasons @KeithWong9 mentioned.


How do they count sheep?




Tori is the plural of tori?


Japanese doesn't have plurals in the way English does. とり can refer to one bird, several birds, or all birds.


Should't be "There are 7 chickens" accepted as a correct solution as well?


No. とり is bird, にわとり is chicken, and とりにく is chicken meat.


Could this also mean '' I have 7 birds ''?


No. います means "there is." It does not have a possessive meaning.


I disagree. います does indeed mean "there is", but, since the topic is unspecified, in the right contexts it can be "there are seven birds {for me/in my possession}".

When talking about one's family members, the most natural way to say "I have a {family member}" is the structure {family member}がいます, because the context strongly implies "there is a {family member} in my family".


"I have a family member" is not really a possession. We cannot say "I have a family member in my possession."

いる/ある can mean "I have" but it is only in a very limited occasion, because it is very ambiguous to say so, just like いいです and we really want to avoid using ある/いる for possession. Just say it out and we can see these are very unnatural sentences. Really don't say these...

  • 私は鳥がいます
  • 私は家があります
  • 私は時計があります

Some of the fixed phrases yes we use があります as "I have," but still it is not really saying these things are in one's possession.

  • 私は時間があります I have time (but time is not in my possession)
  • 私は彼と関係があります I have a relationship with him (again the relationship is not in my possession)

To summarize my findings

  • [something abstract] がある/いる = I have something
  • [something concrete]がある/いる=There is something.

How does this sound?


KeithWong9, so how would one say "I have 7 birds"?


私は鳥を7羽持(も)っています (or 所有(しょゆう)しています)


To say, "These are my 7 birds" (a little variation on "I have 7 birds") does this make sense? これらの鳥のが七羽います


Yes, in this situation the answer is accepted by Duo.


Wouldn't this normally be written using 7 instead of 七? Or am I mistaken?


七 is kanji for 7. However, like English, Japanese have also adopted occasional use of the use of Arabic-Hindu numerals 1, 2, 3... etc. But, it is still important when learning Japanese to learn kanji for numbers, since if you plan to go to Japan or read things in Japanese, you will encounter numbers written in kanji plenty often enough. :)


Why does this answer need this exact use of kanji? 鳥 and 羽 are not accepted, while なな is not accepted as the kana (at least for typing).


I am so sick of this...


It's not even consistent! Kanji for 7 is required, but the other ones are forbidden?


It probably looks at the sound of each character by itself. 羽 is pronounced as はね. Therefore 鳥が七羽います becomes とりがななはねいます which is wrong.

But I still agree with you that it should've been counted as the correct answer. But if you know where Duolingo fails and you know why it fails, it's easier to work around those shortcomings.


Does anyone here have a site or resource that is good for the different counters in Japanese? Not just for rabbits or birds, but all of them?


Maybe not the best way to actually /learn/ the counters, but Wikipedia has an extensive list of counter words: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_counter_word


Shouldn't 七わ be 七は?


No, it is 七羽(ななわ)


Just adding to that: は is only pronounced as "wa" when it is the topic particle. In this sentence, it's unspecified, but the topic definitely isn't the number 7.


Her accent at とり is not natural...


Did not accept 鳥が七waimasu.


Apparently duolingo does not want you to use kanji in this one. 鳥が七羽います should be right or did I miss anything?


How come Duolingo marked this awnser wrong? 鳥が七羽います


We don't have the skills yet to wield the kanji.


The audio sounds sped up.


you may as well not use kanji at all on this website because you're going to be marked wrong lol. duo also seems to have removed the feature of reporting your answer as correct, guess they thought it was a waste of time?


The audio says "nanawa" but the supplemental material in the lesson says it's "shichiwa". Which one is correct? Or are both acceptable?


Kanji symbols can be pronounced differently in different situations. Sometimes it's to distinguish meaning, and other times to avoid ambiguity or taboo.

In this case, seven might be pronounced as "nana" rather than "shichi" to avoid sounding like 死 (shi), meaning "death".

I think we just need to learn all the possible pronunciations and learn from experience which are used when.

https://www.duolingo.com/skill/ja/Time-2/tips-and-notes shows both pronunciations for 七.


Why is 鳥が7羽います wrong? It was an audio exercice for me.


The lesson doesn't seem to accept the Kanji for birds? 鳥が七わいます was rejected. Or was it because I used nana to get to seven instead of shichi, but got the same kanji?


Duolingo isn't perfect, sadly. I highly doubt that typing 'nana' instead of 'shichi' caused this. After all, your keyboard replaces the typed letters with the corresponding kanji. Therefore the application doesn't know what was typed before. Unless they intentionally put that feature in, which would take up too much time. I suppose there are two options possible: -They didn't bother inserting 鳥 in their list of possible answers. -Using 鳥 means you should also use the kanji for the counter (羽). Either way, your answer is right, and Duolingo should accept it. (edit: And they remove the 'enter' from the messages because they don't want it to be readable..)




It is hard enough to learn Japanese without having to learn which combination will be accepted and which will be rejected. If I choose わ and い separately it is marked wrong. If I choose the tile that puts them together, it is marked right. The sentence is the same either way. The report button doesn't allow a response that fits this problem.


とりがななわいます came back incorrect. :-/


My answer matches the correct answer. Not sure why it's marked incorrect.


I typed なな instead of 七 and I got the question wrong


鳥が七羽います is marked as a wrong answer


Doesn't accept the Hiragana for 七, once again, no way to report this problem.


So anyone here listen to the Adventure Zone?


Can we have the option to slow down all speach? Ok thanks


Perhaps you guys can help me, I’m a little confused. Whenever I stumble upon this sentence, I spell out: とりが七わいます Just like above, but always get it wrong. The app tells me it’s: とりが七羽います Is the kanji for “feather” also used to count birds? How is it pronounced in this context?


羽 reads わ and とりが七わいます should be correct. Please submit a bug report via Duolingo homepage with the screenshot attached when your answer is marked wrong.


Or use the report button and select "my answer should've been accepted" (or something along those lines)

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