https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HelpfulDuo

Numbers in Japanese

Let’s learn numbers in Japanese. If you have already learned the basic numbers, please review them. Learning Japanese numbers in hiragana or even kanji are not that hard, but knowing how to count certain objects can be very tricky.

Here’s the number chart in Hiragana and Kanji. Some of them have two options (4, 7 and 9).

# Hiragana Kanji Romaji English
1 いち ichi one
2 ni two
3 さん san three
4 し / よん shi / yon four
5 go five
6 ろく roku six
7 なな / しち nana / shichi seven
8 はち hachi eight
9 きゅう / く kyū / ku nine
10 じゅう ten

11 じゅういち  十一  jū ichi  eleven
12 じゅうに   十二  jū ni   twelve
20 にじゅう   二十  ni jū   twenty
21 にじゅういち 二十一 ni jū ichi twenty-one
40 よんじゅう  四十  yon jū  forty
70 ななじゅう  七十  nana jū  senventy
99 きゅうじゅうきゅう 九十九 kyū jū kyū ninety-nine

Time expressions (~じ - ji)

Time Hiragana Kanji Number Romaji
1:00 いちじ 一時 1時 ichi ji
2:00 にじ 二時 2時 ni ji
3:00 さんじ 三時 3時 san ji
4:00 四時 4 yo ji
5:00 ごじ 五時 5時 go ji
6:00 ろくじ 六時 6時 roku j
7:00 しち 七時 7 shichi ji
8:00 はちじ 八時 8時 hachi ji
9:00 九時 9 ku ji
10:00 じゅうじ 十時 10時 jū ji
11:00 じゅういちじ 十一時 11時 jū ich ji
12:00 じゅうにじ 十二時 12時 jū ni ji

All the expressions end with 時 (ji) to indicate time. Notice that the number in 4 o’clock is irregular; it’s neither し or よん as in the number chart, but it’s じ. (It’s よん with ん dropped.) For 7:00 and 9:00, しち and are used.

Counters

When you count things in general, you can use the first chart for plain numbers, or counting Things list below. The numbers in bold are irregular words that require special attention.

# Things⁺ Romaji People Romaji
- ~こ - ko ~にん - nin
1 いっこ ikko ひとり hito ri
2 にこ ni ko ふたり futa ri
3 さんこ san ko さんにん san nin
4 よん yon ko にん yo nin
5 ごこ go ko ごにん go nin
6 ろっこ rokko ろくにん roku nin
7 なな nana ko しちにん shichi nin
8 はっこ hakko はちにん hachi nin
9 きゅう ko にん⁺⁺ nin

⁺ Alternate way to count things: 1 ひとつ (hito tsu), 2 ふたつ (futa tsu), 3 みっつ (mittsu), 4 よっつ yottsu).
⁺⁺ きゅうにん (kyū nin) is used as well.

This next lists are: for long and semi-cylinder shape items such as pens, pencils, sticks and bottles; and for thin and flat objects such as papers, tickets, shirts and petals. You can count sheet of papers with まい mai, but you can’t count pages in the books and magazines. Page in Japanese is ページ (pēji).

# Long Things Romaji Thin Things Romaji
- ~ほん, ぽん, ぼん - hon, pon, bon ~まい - mai
1 いっぽん ippon いちまい ichi mai
2 ほん ni hon にまい ni mai
3 さん ぼん san bon さんまい san mai
4 よんほん yon hon よんまい yon mai
5 ほん go hon ごまい go mai
6 ろっぽん roppon ろくまい roku mai
7 ななほん nana hon ななまい nana mai
8 はっぽん happon はちまい hachi mai
9 きゅうほん kyū hon きゅうまい kyū mai
10 じゅっぽん juppon じゅうまい jū mai

For counting things (#1, 6, 8, 10) こ - ko and ぽん - pon are added which make the end of the number change to small っ(tsu). The pronunciation become double consonant (pp). Counting long items are full of irregular words, that best way to remember is just keep counting and saying out loud.

Practice counting!

Post finder: Language guides to help with learning Japanese

December 3, 2017

30 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael.Lubetsky

If I may add a few observations:

  1. A sign of a “educated” Japanese person (if you will pardon the classist overtones) is to count things using the “proper” counters, and to be aware of the various exceptions. Large animals are counted with “to”, small animals with “hiki”, birds with “wa”. Rabbits, however, are counted with “wa” for some reason.

  2. This said, as a foreigner, you can pretty much get away with using the “tsu” counter for most objects (hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu, etc). The counter really only matters when there is potential ambiguity; if you want to order beer in a bar, you say “ビールをいっぽん” if you want a bottle, but “ビールをいっぱい” if you want a glass.

  3. The “tsu” counter is described above as an “alternate” form, but when speaking, I think it is the most common. I don’t think I ever used the “ko” counter myself (although it is common on signs).

  4. A caution, however, with “hitotsu” and “futatsu”: There is a tendancy for English-speakers to pronounce the “o” in “hitotsu” like in “Robert”, rather than like in “Oblique”. This is wrong; the Japanese “o” is always rounded. This matters because if you say “hitotsu” with a “o” like in “Robert” (a sound which does not exist in Japanese), it will be heard as an “a” and the listener will think meant to say “futatsu”. I have learnt this the hard way, sometimes wanting to order one thing in a restaurant and getting two delivered. :-)

5.. You may wonder where the numbers “hito”, “futa”, “mutsu”, etc come from; they are quite different than “ichi”, “ni” or “san”. The former are from Old Japanese; the latter come from Chinese. The Japanese number system is a fusion of the two.

December 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Laura_P98

Let me see if I understood. Counter "wa" is exclusively for birds and rabbits? And for all the other animals are "hiki" and "to"? Why are this... random exceptions? It's very confusing.

December 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/testmoogle

I pronounce the "o" in "oblique" and "Robert" more or less completely identically... ^^;

December 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael.Lubetsky

Really? Perhaps a better example would be, “o” as in “Oh, fudge!” :-)

December 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/testmoogle

You mean pronounce ここ the same as "cocoa" ?

December 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Michael.Lubetsky

Yeah, that’s the right “o” sound. I think that ここ would be a said a little bit faster than “cocoa” since the vowels are both short.

December 4, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert_Martens

Japanese say Ko-Ko-A when they say cococa. Just wanted to add that

May 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert_Martens

The hitotsu futatsu problem is very real. I have become so insecure that I always show one or two fingers when I say those words, having been mistaken so many times.

May 17, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Reisan-kun

Japanese is difficult.

December 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Verona557032

Amen!

December 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/thisisanamehaha

the difference between hiragana and katakana is really annoying

December 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fenanda.A03

i like the expresion of the hours.thanks for this.

December 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LeonardoN.M

Very good.

December 3, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Zen_53

sure you got enough languages there?

December 8, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Flerberderp

I can't even name half of those languages

December 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jamie.nelson

give this guy a lingot XD

December 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/bearty_cute

thanks

December 5, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Flerberderp

What is your first language?

December 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SusanSulli10

For counting things (#1, 6, 8, 10) こ - ko and ぽん - pon are added which make the end of the number change to small っ(tus).

っ(tus). should be tsu

December 11, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/HelpfulDuo

Thank you!

December 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Samara845156

Thank you!

December 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Hiprainbow10

this is cool

December 13, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lethonix_Bancaco

ha, senventy.

May 29, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ZaHrA_Chan

it's very helpful! thnx!

December 6, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sophia22507

hi

December 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/hafsa1515

hi

December 20, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/juldat

interesante

December 22, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/steve817862

Thanks, now I've got that song stuck in my head: 一本でもニンジン,二!二束でもサンダル、さん!。。。(When I was little in Japan, this was a song they sang on an educational show, like Sesame Street to teach us how to count.)

Every language has some area where they over-complicate things. In Japanese, it's counting, which is so ironic, because one thinks of numbers and math as the epitome of straightforward logic.

You have to learn both the native system (ひとつ、ふたつ、みっつ、。。。)and the Chinese system because they are not exclusive of one another. For example, when counting people, you say ひとり、ふたり,さんにん、よにん、ごにん、。。。

February 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Arachnje

Could you please add 分(ふん、ぷん) to the table? Thank you

February 12, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Robert_Martens

How to say 7:07 pm Good Luck.

May 17, 2019
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