Course: 1 Lesson: 11 – Counting objects

Course 1 Lesson 11
Counting Things
 About This Lesson このレッスンについてSubmit a Question
Natsumi Sensei


Know the following hiragana: grammar_bypass
Understand Japanese basic counting and how to ask for things.


Get these counters straight. You will sound strange if you mix them up. If you are not strong in the area of counting, now would be the time to get strong.
 New Vocabulary 新しい単語Submit a Question
By clicking on the button, you can hear how each word is pronounced. You can add any word, sentence or phrase to your "Notebook" by clicking on the word and then the save icon.
Japanese English Word Type
いくつ how many things (general) question
なんこ how many things (general / round) question
なんぼん how many things (cylindrical) question
なんまい how many things (thin / flat) question
かみ paper noun
chiketto tickets noun
はな flowers noun
はた flag noun
ほし star (astronomy) noun
Karenda- calendar noun
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 Counters カウンターSubmit a Question
Japanese count things differently, based on a variety of factors such as shape, size, and type etc. Getting the counter wrong can often lead to a misunderstanding so pay attention and learn the counters!

11-1. Counting things in Japanese

Counting things in Japanese is not quite the same as in English. In Japanese, things are counted differently based on their shape or classification. Wow, that is strange! …Or so everyone says. If you think about it, we have a similar system in English. It always strikes me funny when students of the Japanese language get flustered by the counting system, because English has a similar system. We also count things differently based on what the item is. For example, “one slice of pizza,” “one piece of cake,” “a school of fish,” or “a flock of geese” are all things we say in English without batting an eye. In this lesson we will introduce four of the most commonly used counting systems.

11-2. Counters

NOTE: Each of the following counters continue into infinity following the pattern of the first ten numbers and the basic rules of counting. After ten items the いくつ counter follows the pattern of the なんこ classifier.

General / Abstract Objects Small / Round Objects
How many? いくつ なんこ
1 ひとつ いっこ
2 ふたつ にこ
3 みっつ さんこ
4 よっつ よんこ
5 いつつ ごこ
6 むっつ ろっこ
7 ななつ ななこ
8 やっつ はっこ/はちこ
9 ここのつ きゅうこ
10 とお じゅっこ
11 じゅういっこ じゅういっこ
12 じゅうにこ じゅうにこ
1-12 ひとつ-じゅうにこ いっこ-じゅうにこ
Long / Cylindrical Objects Thin and Flat Objects
How many? なんぼん なんまい
1 いっぽん いちまい
2 にほん にまい
3 さんぼん さんまい
4 よんほん よんまい
5 ごほん ごまい
6 ろっぽん ろくまい
7 ななほん ななまい
8 はっぽん/はちほん はちまい
9 きゅうほん きゅうまい
10 じゅっぽん じゅうまい
11 じゅういっぽん じゅういちまい
12 じゅうにほん じゅうにまい
1-12 いっぽん ~ じゅうにほん いちまい ~ じゅうにまい

11-3. General / Abstract Objects いくつ

The いくつ counter is the most common and versatile counter. It can be used to count almost anything – physical objects as well as abstract objects, such as problems or ideas. It cannot be used to count people, animals, or living creatures, and is not normally used to count large objects such as airplanes. Many Japanese use this counter even though a more proper counter exists. Always try to use the correct counter to identify what you are counting, but when in doubt use this counter. This counter changes to the なんこ counter after 10.

11-4. Round / General Objects なんこ

The なんこ counter is used when counting round objects such as fruit, balls, etc… The objects being counted do not have to be perfectly round. The なんこ counter can also be used as a general counter like いくつ. It cannot, however, be used to count abstract objects in the way that いくつ is used.

11-5. Long / Cylindrical Objects なんぼん

The なんぼん counter is used to count objects that are long and cylindrical in shape, such as bottles of cola, pens, legs and flowers (due to the stem). It is also used to count some items that might not seem to be long or cylindrical, such as video cassettes, teeth, and numbers of flights. Don’t be surprised to hear this counter in a variety of situations.

11-6. Thin / Flat Objects なんまい

The なんまい counter is used to count objects that are thin and flat, such as paper, tickets, plates, and compact discs. It cannot be used to count books, magazines, and other published materials. (These use the さつ counter.)

 Grammar 文法Submit a Question
The Grammar sections of each lesson give you the building blocks necessary to speak Japanese properly. Make sure that you read and understand each section.

11-7. The counters and particles

No matter what counter is being used, particles are not necessary after the counter. You will notice that the particles in the following sentences follow the object and not the counter.

1. ひとつ ください.
One please.
2. Piza を にまい ください.
Two slices of pizza please.
3. Bi-ru を さんぼん ください.
Three beers please.

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Mini Quiz
Click the to reveal the Japanese.
1. How many are there? (general)
2. There are four bananas.
3. Are there five tickets?

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11-8. More

あと means “more,” “else,” “in addition” and sometimes “other.” It is placed in front of numbered things in the following ways. It is okay to add after あと.

Example Q&A
1.       あ と いくら です か.
    あ と ごひゃくえん です.

 How much more is it?
 It's five hundred yen more.
2.       あと は なに が いい です か.
    みず と supu-n を ください.
    こしょう と しお を ください.

 What else would you like?
 Water and a spoon, please.
 Pepper and salt, please.

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Example Conversation
1.       なに が すき です か.
    すし と piza が すき です.
    あと、なに が すき です か.
    あと は あなた が すき です.

 What do you like?
 I like sushi and pizza.
 What else do you like?
 I like you, also.
2.       あと は なに が いい です か.
    みず を ひとつ、おねがいします.

 What else would you like?
 A glass of water, please.
 Please wait a few moments.

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Mini Quiz
Click the to reveal the English.
1. あと は だれ が すき です か.
2. あと は いくつ です か.

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 Question and Answer 質問と答えSubmit a Question
Each question is presented with several potential answers. To test your pronunciation, try each question and answer out loud before you click the sound button.

1. Koppu は いくつ です か.
Koppu は いつつ です.
ひとつ です.
How many cups are there?
There are five cups.
There is one.
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2. Orenji は なんこ です か.
orenji は ろっこです
さんこ です.
How many oranges are there?
There are six oranges.
There are three.
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3. Chiketto は なんまい です か.
Chiketto は ななまい です.
Chiketto は ひゃくまい です.
じゅうにまい です.
How many tickets are there?
There are seven tickets.
There are 100 tickets.
There are 12.
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4. えんぴつ は なんぼん です か.
えんぴつ は にほん です.
えんぴつ は にじゅうにほん です.
じゅっぽん です.
How many pencils are there?
There are two pencils.
There are 22 pencils.
There are ten.
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5. Pinku の はな は なんぼん です か.
Pinku の はな は いっぽん です.
How many pink flowers are there?
There is one pink flower.
I don't know.
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6. むらさき の ほし は いくつ です か.
むらさき の ほし は さんじゅうきゅうこ です.
How many purple stars are there?
There are 39 purple stars.
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7. Ko-ra は あ と なんぼん です か.
あ と ろっぽん ください.
How many more colas?
Six more cans, please.
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8. なに が いい です か.
Piza を さんまい ください.
みず と banana を いっぽん ください.
What would you like?
Three slices of pizza please.
Some water and one banana please.
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 Mini Conversations ミニ会話Submit a Question
Click the sound button to listen to each part of the conversation. Pay attention to the context description to understand the different styles of speaking to friends and strangers.
1.  A conversation at a fast food restaurant.
A:     Pepushi を ください.
B:     なんぼん です か.
A:     じゅうごほん ください.

A:  A Pepsi please.
B:  How many?
A:  15 please.

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2.  A conversation at a movie theatre.
A:     Chiketto を よんまい ください.
B:     はい.
A:     あ!! あ と にまい ください.
B:     はい、ななまい です.
A:     いいえ、 ちがいます。ろくまい です.

A:  Four tickets please.
B:  OK.
A:  Oh! Two more tickets please.
B:  Ok. seven tickets.
A:  No, that's wrong. It's six tickets.

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 More Practice 補充練習Submit a Question
In this section we will practice what was taught in the lesson and reinforce what was taught in prior lessons. Any new words or expressions are listed in the section.
A:     いらっしゃい.
B:     すみません。いくら と はまち を ください.
A:     はい!そちら の おきゃくさんは?
C:     わたし は おみそしる を ひとつ と おちゃ を おねがいします。きょう の おすすめ は なん です か.
A:     そう です ね。きょう は あまえび が おいしい です.
C:     じゃあ、それ を ひとつ、ください.
B:     あと、えだまめ も ください.
C:     わたし も えだまめ が ほしい です。おさら を 2まい、おねがいします.
A:     はい、わかりました!

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New words and expressions
いらっしゃい welcome (rough form of いらっしゃいませ)
いくら salmon eggs
はまち yellow tail fish
おきゃくさん customer
おすすめ recommendation
あまえび sweet shrimp
えだまめ green soybeans
そちら polite version of そっち (there)
 Lesson Quizzes クイズSubmit a Question
The quizzes will test your understanding of the material taught in each lesson. You can take each quiz as many times as you want to. The correct answers will be show at the end of the quiz.
 Additional Vocabulary 補充単語Submit a Question
The following words will possibly be used in the following lessons. Vocabulary is very important to attaining fluency in Japanese. The more words you know, the closer you will be to fluency!

Group O: at school

せんせい teacher
ほん book
じしょ dictionary
おてあらい restroom
えんぴつ pencil
おんがく music
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Group P: at the office

けいたいでんわ cellular phone
Ko-hi- coffee
たばこ cigarettes
おかね money
めいし name card
pokeberu pager
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Group Q: insects

ごきぶり cockroach
あり ant
はえ house fly
きょうりゅう dinosaur
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 Related Videos 関連ビデオSubmit a Question
The video(s) below help explain what is taught in this lesson. It is recommended that you first complete the lesson and then watch the video(s).

 General Counters Submit a Question
 Long & Cylindrical Counters Submit a Question
 New Words Submit a Question
 Small & Round Counters Submit a Question
 Thin & Flat Counters Submit a Question
 Chizu Challenge Submit a Question
 YesJapan Kana Attack! Submit a Question
 YesJapan Strike! Submit a Question

There are currently no questions for this lesson.