1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Japanese
  4. >
  5. "とりが二わいます。"


Translation:There are two birds.

June 13, 2017



If わ is the Counter for Birds, does that include emus and ostriches?


Tofugu says yes to ostriches but doesn't mention emus (I'm sure they use わ too though) https://www.tofugu.com/japanese/count-in-japanese/

I don't think it's been specifically mentioned on this page before, but the kanji for わ is 羽 which means "feather" or "wing", so even flightless birds can be included (although bats use 匹 :P).


Thanks for the info, JoshuaLore9. I found a translation for ostrich, but not for emu. I was wondering if they might use the counter for big animals or something else. I can see the "feather" barbs in 羽. Bats, though! I hadn't thought about them.Thanks.


Now I wonder what they use for feathered dinosaurs :o


I doubt much though had been put into it, since you'll find little need to say something like "There are two velociraptors" in conversation! 20/03/2019


Well if you ever need to say it, well, you'll definitely need to say it


Bats are mammals though


Why "imasu" and not "arimasu" ?


Because the birds are alive. います is used for animate things (people, animals), あります is inanimate things (objects, dead stuff).


Although for what I know, ghosts also use います (even though they are dead) because they are animate


This is new information i missed, thanks for telling us :D


Shouldn't this be "The bird is in the garden" instead of the marked as correct "There are two birds"?


庭 is the kanji for garden. 二羽 is for counting. Theres a funny saying 「庭には二羽鶏がいる」(にわにはにわにわとりがいる)"there are two chickens in the garden"


I clicked on the discussion to post this, but you beat me! My fave Japanese tongue twister (hayakuchi kotoba)


This made me realize that Japanese really does have a limited number of syllables. Wow that is amazing.


I said this at least 10 times so fun xD


I bit my tongue lol


Two things tell you that "There are two birds" is the correct answer. Firstly, had 'niwa' been meant as garden, they would have used にわ in all hiragana (at this stage at least), while in this sentence it's actually a kanji+kana mix: 二 (kanji for '2') and わ (counter for birds). Second, "(to be) in the garden" would be にわ に いる; notice the use of a second 'ni' as an indicator of place(/direction/time).


A lot of kanjis have the same reafing, which makes it difficult when everything is in hirigana, but if it meant garden itwould have the destination particle attached so "庭に"


わ is the counter for birds. So とりがにわ means two birds. It is not the にわ of garden.


It's 二わ, not には.


わ as the Counter for Birds is quiet obscure information... there are way more important counters to know over a Bird Counter such as the standard Animal Counter 匹... even I haven't seen a Bird Counter before...


Even you? Wow.


It is also the counter for rabbits. Why do only birds and rabbits share this counter, I have no clue.


Apparently, the story goes that when Buddhism was becoming more popular in Japan, what people could and couldn't eat for religious reasons was coming under scrutiny. Birds were okay to eat, but meat from other animals was not. This was a problem for some Buddhist monks who actually quite liked the taste of rabbit, so they went about changing the classification of rabbits from animal to bird, and thus the counter for them was changed too.

It was pretty clever how they did it too. As you may know, "rabbit" in Japanese is うさぎ. I guess back then, not all words had kanji assigned to them because they assigned うさぎ the kanji 鵜鷺. Here's the clever part: 鵜 is pronounced う and now means "cormorant", and 鷺 is pronounced さぎ and now means "heron". Both kanji also have the radical for "bird" in them, 鳥.

I don't know how historically accurate this is, but I found this kind of explanation on a few different Japanese websites.


Great story Joshua, I love that kanji trickery!

@Jay: whatever the historical truth behind this oddity may be, nowadays it's common to use the (more logical) counter for small animals for rabbits too: 匹.


This story reminds me of when the pope reclassified beavers as a fish so French fur trappers could eat them on Fridays. Or, more recently, when Congress classified pizza as a vegetable.


In the USA, the Federal School Lunch Program allows children who attend public schools to qualify for a "free lunch" or lunch at a reduced price if they come from low income homes, but the lunch must meet certain nutritional standards, such as including a vegetable. In 1982, when Ronald Reagan was President of the USA, his administration cut the budget for the Federal School Lunch Program by 25 percent (while increasing the military budget, as critics observed). Reagan wanted to classify ketchup as a vegetable, so that public schools could meet the nutritional requirement of the "free lunch program" without having to go to the expense of providing an actual vegetable to the poor children who could not afford to pay full price for a school lunch; Reagan figured that if ketchup were legally classified as a vegetable, then public schools could afford the 25 percent budget cut.

I think the more recent idea that the US Congress classified pizza as a vegetable came in 2011, with a proposal to raise nutritional standards, requiring, among other things, that it would take a minimum of half a cup (about 120 ml) of tomato paste on a pizza, rather than the previous standard of 2 tablespoons (about 30 ml), to qualify as a vegetable. Opponents who blocked the higher standard were criticized for classifying pizza with just a couple tablespoons of tomato paste as a vegetable.


I heard something similar regarding other meats, like venison and boar, being given "floral" names to avoid Buddist religious restrictions regarding meat. Venison became "momiji" (maple), horse became "sakura" (cherry) and boar was called "botan" (peony) during the Edo period. Good eating!


That's one story. Another, which seems more plausible to me, albeit more boring, is that the connection is their jumping motion being like flying - "jump" and "fly" are both とぶ in Japanese.


Well, rabbit meat looks and tastes a lot like poultry.


So it's "うさぎが二わいます" ? Like bird


It used to be, and some older people might still stick to it, but as @Alcedo-Atthis pointed out, 匹 is now widely used.


It comes up in jouyou level 2. It's a basic kanji. 二羽


I knew the Kanji, but forgot the reading.


They probably use わ here to make a pun.


No pun going on here. Contrary to @CheriTabushi 's assertion, 羽 (わ) is completely standard Japanese.


Is the information quiet because it is obscure, or obscure because it is quiet?


Can I get a sentence breakdown please? ありがとうございます!



鳥 (とり) = bird(s)

が = subject marker (in this case, the thing doing the verb)

二羽 (にわ) = two birds, where 羽 is what's known as a "counter" for birds (and rabbits)

います = to exist (for animate objects)

Literally: "Birds are two {birds} exist" 》 "There are two birds"

Alternatively, since は is omitted, it can be implied as 私は (or any other noun) and the sentence becomes "(as for me,) birds are two {birds} exist (in my possession)" 》 "I have two birds"


Thank you for that great explanation! I'm new to Japanese and trying to get a handle on the specific counter idea. Could you just say が二羽います to mean the same thing? (Omit とり since it's indicated by the specific counter?)


You're welcome; I'm glad I could help :)

That's a good idea, but while things such as birds or tables have a specific counter, the same counter can be used for multiple things. For example, 羽 as I mentioned above is used for birds (of all kinds, penguins, eagles, emus, etc.) and rabbits. The counter for tables (台, だい) is also used for cars, machines, and computers. So if it is obvious what "thing" you are talking about from the context, it's possible to omit it and just use the counter to tell someone how many of that thing there are, but in general, if you just said to someone 二羽います, they might assume you mean "there are two birds" because birds are probably more common than rabbits, but they'll probably also think "二羽 of what?"

The other thing you might notice about what I just wrote, is that there is no が. In Japanese, particles point to the word that appears in front of it (earlier in the sentence), unlike prepositions in English. So if you remove とり, you also need to remove が because it doesn't have anything to point to anymore. (Side note: theoretically, you could also put it after 二羽 instead, and that's perfectly acceptable too)


explanation in Japanese https://detail.chiebukuro.yahoo.co.jp/qa/question_detail/q1074748295?__ysp=44Go44KK44GM44Gr44KP44GE44G%2B44GZ

「10羽」=「じっぱ」(or「じゅうわ」)、「100羽」=「ひゃっぱ」(or「ひゃくわ」)、「1000羽」=「せんば」(or「せんわ」)is corect grammar. correct way to read「10羽」is「じっぱ」(without ゅ sound)(or「じゅうわ」), but most Japanese are pronouncing as「じゅっぱ」 and it is not considered as wrong usage.


In the audio 'ga' sounds like it's being pronounced as 'wa'.

Is this another pronounciation exception, or is the recording not good?


What is the meaning of が in this sentence? Why can't we use は instead?


が emphasizes the subject, while は is a more general topic marker. Since 二羽(にわ)indicates a specific number of chickens, we use が in this sentence.


Wait, is there a counter for everything?!


i typed "there's 2 birds" and it marked me wrong. isn't the meaning same here?


"There are 2 birds" would've been correct. "there is 2 birds" is incorrect English


Improper use of singular and plural. It should be 'There are 2 birds.


I'm having a really hard time understanding why 鳥が二羽います isn't a valid answer

鳥 is the proper kanji for bird and 羽 is the proper kanji for the Wa counter, what am I missing?


Is the counter -ひき(びき) only used for 4 legged animals? Because I thought it could apply to birds too.


No, not exclusively. It's also used for fish, insects, and possibly (though less frequently) birds. Usually if something has its own counter, you use that one rather than a general one. Besides, it's not for all 4 legged animals either. When you have larger animals such as cows and horses you use 頭 (とう).


I answered: 鳥が二羽います and it was rejected, did I make a mistake?


Lol I like the definition of the character after "ni". "For counting birds" lol this is a word specifically for counting birds. i know it's obviously for the noun of which you're counting, it was just cute :)


It is actually just for counting birds and rabbits. I'm still an absolute beginner, but it seems there are specific 'counters' for different nouns. Check out the Japanese Counter Word page on Wikipedia


Wa is for counting birds! wow didn't know that. LOL


do you mean to tell me there are individual counters for different species


It is bad, but not quite that bad. There's a counter for small animals and a counter for large animals, and a few less common counters for more specific categories, like birds/rabbits. But you don't have to learn a new counter for every species.

The counter 匹 (hiki) is used for counting most small animals, such as cats and dogs. Rabbits and birds are counted using a different counter, 羽 (wa). Large animals, such as horses or cows, are usually counted using the counter 頭 (tō)

Uma ga gotou imasu. (There are five horses.)

Neko ga sanbiki imasu. (There are three cats.)




Just gave " 鳥が二羽います。 " and been marked wrong... please tell me I'm not going mad?


Gotta laugh: Tried again omitting all kanji and now been penalised for leaving 二 as に ! Oh well.


I'm a bit confused about why the pronunciation for 二 here is 「に」 and not 「ふた」- if anyone could explain why I'd appreciate it!


二 is a kanji character so it has different reading, depending on the word it is used in.

For numbers, you generally learn the on'yomi (chinese reading) when learning to count to ten and the kun'yomi when learning the "irregular" readings of the various counter words. The exceptions are 4 and 7, because you are taught both readings when learning to count to 10

For 二, ふた is kun. に is on.

The reading that is used, depends on the counter word that you pair the kanji with - in this case, we are counting birds, so we use the special animal counter 羽 (わ) for birds and rabbits, instead of the general counter つ, or the regular small animal counter 匹 (ひき).

The word 二羽 is pronounced にわ using kun'yomi (Japanese reading) for the counter and on'yomi (Chinese reading) for the numeral.


Thanks for the explanation! I appreciate how thoroughly you explained it


I'm a little surprised that teachers and textbooks don't bother to tell people this up front and just teach both readings from the start. You have to memorize both of them eventually, so it is not like it saves you any time in the long run.

If you want to learn the kun readings for all the base numbers, look at the general counter つ. These counter words use kun'yomi. Some counter words will use on'yomi instead ... or a mix of the two, with 4 and 7 usually taking kun readings.

Here they are in list form:
1 Hito
2 Futa
3 Mi
4 Yon
5 Itsu
6 Mu
7 Nana
8 Ya
9 Kokono
10 To

Before Chinese influence, counting to 10 in Japanese would have sounded very different.


I've learned the pronunciations for both but I hadn't realised that が was meant to be a counter (with a kanji making the 二 take the on'yomi pronunciation) rather than a particle in hiragana. Thank you anyway for giving the kun pronunciations for a reference, though!


Just to clarify:

が is a particle.
わ is a counter.

二羽 means "two birds (or rabbits)"

とり (bird) が (subject marking particle) にわ (two + bird counter) います (iru - the verb of exisitance for animate things)

"There are two birds."

Or "Two birds exist."


Thata a great explanation, but could you please explain how you know whether to use the on or kun reading for any given counter? Or do you just have to learn them one by one?


Haha, oops. I translated it as "There's a bird in the yard." Which would probably instead be "庭に鳥がいます".


The accent is strange. TOri × → toRI○ かぞえかた 鳥(とり),兎(うさぎ)→羽(わ)、小さい動物(ちいさいどうぶつ),魚(さかな),虫(むし)→匹(ひき)、大きい動物(おおきいどうぶつ)→頭(とう) 頭(とう)は にほんじんが えいごのheadを まねして つかいました。 source : https★//japanknowledge.com/articles/kze/column_kaz_12.html ★→:


is "there're 2 birds" wrong ?


A general question here, when listening it is possible to hear 庭 (にわ 、yard) instead of 二わい (two birds ). Ofcourse this sentence is not about a yard, but do those kinds of missunderstandings happen from time to time in japanese culture?

I've seen some jokes around this subject before but im not sure if there is also a serious side to it


Japanese has a ton of homophones - words that share the same pronounciation, but have different meanings. It can, and does, cause confusion sometimes. In fact, one of the reasons why kanji is used in written Japanese is because it helps reduce ambiguity by making it more obvious which word you are intending. In spoken Japanese, the listener will ask for confirmation occassionally or the speaker will add more information to clarify when needed.


Isn't the Japanese incorrect?


Why do you say that? The Japanese looks fine to me.


For those who want to know the kanji: 鳥が二羽います。


The kanji 羽 was marked as wrong, when I think is the right kanji for わ in this situation, right?


There is a specific counter only for birds? I thought counters in japanese were "universal", for everything, being animated or not. I really cant understand the "wa" and people saying its "counter for birds"... I would never imagine this. The "wa" still seems so confusing.


"Two heads of cattle" "Three leaves of paper" "One sprig of rosemary," counters can get pretty specific. From my understanding, Japanese has a lot of counters, some for long, thin things, some for flat, wide things, some for certain animals, but you can get away with knowing the most common and general ones.


Whyy do we use niwa instead of futatsu????


Because we are counting birds, so there is a more specific counter.


When you have two birds


Why is 鳥が二羽います wrong?


This is so damn annoying! I never know whether it's going to mark me wrong for using kanji, wrong for NOT using kanji, or let either slide. Then to make it worse, if it marks me wrong, there is no option to check 'my answer should have been accepted'... It's more stressful remembering which kanji/kana combination Duolingo will accept than remembering the actual correct answer.


Last I read, Tree Version 2.0 was coming out for all users in August? They solve this problem and add even more Kanji into the lessons is my understanding. Any news?




Another one of these false errors. Ruining streaks. I selected とり+が+二+わ+い+ます but that is apparently wrong. Only other way to get the sentence is selecting とり+が+二+わい+ます


I have 2 birds. Ones mine the other one is my brothers


Does the counter for birds uses onyomi numbers?


Could it be i have two birds?


Doesn't accept Hiragana for 二 and I can't report this problem.


As far as I know that would be wrong. The 二 in this case is the kanji for 2, not the sound ni.

Learn Japanese in just 5 minutes a day. For free.