Translation:I have two older sisters.
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Yes there's exceptions for the people counter (ri) : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_counter_word
IainCowan, it will start to make sense to you when you get into the numbers section. Japanese has two sets of numbers. Both sets are commonly used, so both sets must be learned. The most ancient set no longer goes past 10, but it can be coupled with the general counter tsu つto mean pieces or things, which makes it ideal when you don't know which counter goes with what noun. This is what I learned: 1-hito-tsu (one thing-a-ma-jig) (but one person=hito-ri) 2-futa-tsu (two people are futa-ri) 3-mi-tsu 4-yo-tsu 5-itsu-tsu (don't voice the first u) 6-mu-tsu 7-nana-tsu 8-ya-tsu 9-kokono-tsu 10-tou The other system is the ichi, ni, san, shi/yon, go, roku, nana/shichi, hachi, ku/kyu, ju, etc. but those numbers, when used with nouns, must be paired with appropriate counters. As to your question, to count people, you would opt for the 九人--kyūnin=nine people vs. 九つ--kokonotsu or nine thing-a-ma-jigs. I hope the two sets of numbers will make sense soon.
No, あね and おねえさん are specifically for older sisters. Using the former, as in this question, refers to one's own older sisters, while using the latter refers to the listener's older sisters.
To be more generic, as in "There are two sisters", you would have to use 姉妹(しまい)が二人います。
Trying to work out levels of formality here: I understood あね (ane) is the older sister in my family, and あねえさん (oneesan) is to refer to older sister(s) in another family. But, DL gave me two possible translations here: "I have two older sisters," and "They have two older sisters"--both correct. From someone's earlier comment, I learned that some people will use the more polite form (i.e.: o--san) when referring to their own family. Can I legitimately use both forms for my family, as long as I always use the polite form for other families? Is this consistent?
I'm not 100% sure about this, but I believe Duo is incorrect for allowing "They have two older sisters" for this sentence, because, as you correctly noticed, you should "always use the polite form for other families".
To my understanding, strictly speaking, it should be あね for talking ABOUT your own older sister TO other people, and おねえさん for talking ABOUT someone else's older sister or for talking TO your own older sister.
However, real life usage isn't that clear cut, mainly because of two conflicting considerations when talking ABOUT your own sister. (Obviously, every family has their own way of referring to each other, and usually young children will use those "names" even when talking with others.)
The first is the notion of うち and そと, or "in groups" and "out groups". In Japan, especially in business, the language you use reflects this idea very heavily. When speaking ABOUT people (and their actions) in "the same group" as you TO people "outside your group", you are expected to avoid honorifics and honorific language because you will be seen to be "raising up" your own position by raising up the position of your group.
A common example of this is a shop assistant will use humble language when relaying what their manager (in group) said to a customer (out group). They will "humble" their manager, who is in a higher position than them, to the customer because of this "group" consideration. This is the reason you are expected to use the less polite あね to refer to your own older sister (in group) when talking with others (out group).
The second consideration is probably much simpler to understand; age/seniority. For some people, this trumps the in/out group consideration and means that regardless of who you are talking to, you should use the polite form おねえさん for your older sister, because she is older than you.
As I said, I'm not sure if this is the actual reasoning going on in native speakers' heads. But I think you can get away with using either for your own older sister; people will understand what you mean in most contexts and it's not really considered rude or improper anyway.
Dear Joshua Lorenzo, thank you very much not only for this comment, but also for all your other comments. It's always a pleasure to read your clear and detailed explanations about the Japanese language and culture. I wish I could give you lingots, but I can't find how to do it on the phone app... If anyone knows, please...
I am trying to understand the difference between は and が. In this case can we say that using は instead of が would change the meaning to "the older sisters are two"? Could we interpret が as answering the question "what is it that I have two of?" (older sisters) while は would refer to "what is the main feature of the older sisters?" (being two)?
Good try, but not quite, I think. In this case, は vs が doesn't affect the meaning very much (both mean "I have two older sisters"), but I would interpret が as answering "how many siblings do you have?", whereas は answers the question "how many older sisters do you have?"
Some people will tell you that は vs が is about general vs specific, and this is one example that kind of lines up with that. が makes your sentence more specific than the topic of the conversation.
Unfortunately, this isn't the only way は and が can affect the meaning/interpretation of a sentence, and I'm not qualified to give you one broad explanation that covers all the various possibilities.
For those who are having a problem with human counters... 一人 - Hitori 二人 - futari 三人 - sannin 四人 - yonnin 五人 - gonnin 六人 - rokunin 七人 - shichinin 八人 - hachinin And for nine and ten people, it would be kyunin and jūnin... For the numbers above ten it would be like... Jūichinin, jūninin and so on....
I translated あねが二人います to "there are 2 older sisters" because of the います, that was my reasoning. I got it right but the other suggested right answer was "I have 2 older sisters". In English these are two different sentences. Can you help me understand where the "have" part in あねが二人いますof this sentence is? Thank you so much.
Please read other comments before posting. This question has already been asked and answered.
あね and おねえさん are specifically for older sisters. Using the former, as in this question, refers to one's own older sisters, while using the latter refers to the listener's older sisters.
To be more generic, as in "There are two sisters", you would have to use 姉妹(しまい)が二人います。
Its a question of context .... Most Japanese courses dont follow a story line which would indicate context .. So just as a question in english ... How many sisters have you ?... Ans : Two ... How many sisters are there ? Ans : Two . The answer is understood by the context of the question ..
I'm learning Japanese independently using Duolingo. Is it just me or is this discussion the first time that futari or jin counters have been used? It would be helpful to be taught this counter alone before having to try to figure it out in a sentence. I'm starting to study again after a few months break. I must say it's huge knowledge leaps like this that disheartened me the first time and caused me to stop studying Japanese.
You're not imagining things. If you look at where ふ sits on a typical hiragana chart, it sort of makes sense: it's in the う column on the ハ row, where the others in the row are "ha", "hi", "he", and "ho".
ふ is typically transliterated as "fu", but it's pronounced kind of halfway between "fu" and "hu", leaning slightly more one way or the other depending on the sounds around it. If you keep your mouth and tongue in the shape of an "f" sound while trying to say "who", that's pretty close to what it sounds like.
One thing. Futari is romanized with an f but the fu sound is not a dental fricative but a bilabial fricative. Should sound like a cross between fu and who but some native speakers (seems to me) go closer to a who sound than a foo. I think thats why duo says "footaree" but fun was closer to whoon !
It depends on what information you want to convey in your sentence.
You could say
which means "I have several female siblings", but that's uncommon because it's a rather vague declaration. It would only really come up if you were telling a riddle or something, or like when movies play the pronoun game.
More commonly though, yes, you would list each type separately. Here are a few possible examples. (姉 = あね = "older sister", 妹 = いもうと = "younger sister")
- 姉が二人、妹が一人います ("I have two older sisters and one younger sister")
- 姉三人と妹四人がいます ("I have three older sisters and four younger sisters") side note: this way is probably more common if you have a few different types, e.g. if you wanted to enumerate all your siblings (兄一人、姉一人、妹一人、弟一人がいます)
- 姉と妹が一人ずついます ("I have one of each, an older and younger sister")