Basics: Numbers and Counters

Numbers

Numbers in Japanese initially, before learning counters are probably simpler than those in English. In Japanese, up until the number 100, all numbers follow the same pattern of combining previous numbers together. Even after 100, this pattern continues, with some slight variations in pronunciation for the values of 300, 600, 800, 3000 and 8000 (for numbers up to 10000) Starting with 1-10, which become the base of the rest of the numbers:

Number Kanji Hiragana
1 いち
2
3 さん
4 し or よん
5
6 ろく
7 しち or なな
8 はち
9 きゅう or く
10 じゅう

After 10, the pattern repeats, adding じゅう before all of the numbers up to 20.

Number Kanji Hiragana
11 十一 じゅういち
12 十二 じゅうに
13 十三 じゅうさん
14 十四 じゅうよん
15 十五 じゅうご
16 十六 じゅうろく
17 十七 じゅうなな
18 十八 じゅうはち
19 十九 じゅうく
20 二十 にじゅう
21 二十一 にじゅういち
22 二十二 にじゅうに

This pattern is repeated until 99, where at 100, a new character is introduced.

Number Kanji Hiragana
30 三十 さんじゅう
40 四十 よんじゅう
50 五十 ごじゅう
60 六十 ろくじゅう
70 七十 ななじゅう
80 八十 はちじゅう
90 九十 きゅうじゅう
100 ひゃく

After 100, certain pronunciations change slightly, however all of the values of 1-99 have the same pronunciations as before. For example, 432 would be 四百三十二 or よんひゃくさんじゅうに. The value for 1000 is 千 or せん with the pronunciation pattern repeating again. For example, 5138 would be 五千百三十八 or ごせんひゃくさんじゅうはち.



Special Pronunciations:

  • 300 is pronounced as さんびゃく
  • 600 is pronounced as ろっぴゃく
  • 800 is pronounced as はっぴゃく
  • 3000 is pronounced as さんぜん
  • 8000 is pronounced as はっせん
  • 10000 is一万 or いちまん
  • 0 (Zero) in Japanese is generally 零(れい)or ゼロ.

Negative Numbers: Say マイナス followed by the number normally.

Decimals: Generally, you would say ゼロ or 零 followed by 点(てん)which represents the decimal point. After the decimal point, read each digit as its own number. So 0.013 would be read as 零点零一三 (れいてんれいいちさん) OR ゼロ点ゼロ一三 (ゼロてんゼロいちさん)

Counters

The Japanese language has specific ways to count depending on the type of counted item. Included are 13 of the major ones that people use. There are a lot more in existence, but these are more of the common ones. Any kanji for counted values will consist of the number then the kanji for the appropriate counter.



–つ
Usage: For generic objects without a specific counter.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana ひとつ ふたつ みっつ よっつ いつつ
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana むっつ ななつ やっつ ここのつ とお

–枚(まい
Usage: For flat, thin objects such as paper or cloth.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いちまい にまい さんまい よんまい ごまい
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろくまい ななまい はちまい きゅうまい じゅうまい

–人(にん)
Usage: For counting people.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana ひとり ふたり さんにん よにん ごにん
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろくにん しちにん はちにん きゅうにん じゅうにん

–冊(さつ)
Usage: For counting bound objects, such as books or magazines.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いっさつ にさつ さんさつ よんさつ ごさつ
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろくさつ ななさつ はっさつ きゅうさつ じゅっさつ

–匹(ひき)
Usage: For counting small animals, fish or insects.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いっぴき にひき さんびき よんひき ごひき
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろっぴき ななひき はっぴき きゅうひき じゅっぴき

-回(かい)
Usage: To count the number of times something occurs.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いっかい にかい さんかい よんかい ごかい
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろっかい ななかい はちかい きゅうかい じゅっかい

–歳(さい)
Usage: To count the age of something or someone.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いっさい にさい さんさい よんさい ごさい
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろくさい ななさい はっさい きゅうさい じゅっさい

–本(ほん)
Usage: To count long, cylindrical objects such as pencils or trees.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いっぽん にほん さんぼん よんほん ごほん
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろっぽん ななほん はちほん きゅうほん じゅっぽん

-杯(はい)
Usage: To count cups or glassfuls of something.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いっぱい にはい さんばい よんはい ごはい
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろっぱい ななはい はっぱい きゅうはい じゅっぱい

-階(かい)
Usage: To count the number of floors of a building.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いっかい にかい さんかい よんかい ごかい
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろっかい ななかい はっかい きゅうかい じゅっかい

-台(だい)
Usage: To count machines or vehicles.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いちだい にだい さんだい よんだい ごだい
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろくだい ななだい はちだい きゅうだい じゅうだい

-個(こ)
Usage: To count other small, generally round objects.

# 1 2 3 4 5
Hiragana いっこ にこ さんこ よんこ ごこ
# 6 7 8 9 10
Hiragana ろっこ ななこ はっこ きゅうこ じゅっこ