Course: 1 Pre-Lesson: B – Basic Counting

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

LESSON GOALS

To learn to count from 1 to at least 10,000.

FROM THE TEACHERS

You don’t have to learn these numbers all at once. Try learning a few sections at a time and then come back to this lesson later.
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 The Basics 基本Submit a Question
The Basics sections of the lessons are used to introduce simple but powerful concepts in Japanese. Understanding the basics is important as you progress in your Japanese studies.

B-1. Single numbers

Basic counting in Japanese is easy! All you have to do is remember the following list of numbers plus a few rules, and you’re on the way. Some of the numbers have more than one version. The different versions are explained in the Culture Clip of this lesson. When counting from 1 to 10 most people will use the first version of each number listed.

the single numbers 0-10
zero rei maru 0
ichi 1
ni 2
san 3
shi yon 4
go 5
roku 6
shichi nana 7
hachi 8
ku kyuu 9
juu 10

zero -juu
0-10

B-2. The teens

To form numbers from 11 to 19, start with juu (10) and add one of the numbers after it from the numbers above. It is much like counting with roman numerals.

the teen numbers 11-19
juuichi 11
juuni 12
juusan 13
juuyon 14
juugo 15
juuroku 16
juunana juushichi 17
juuhachi 18
juukyuu juuku 19

juuichi-juukyuu
11-19

B-3. The tens

The tens are formed by combining the single numbers with juu. For example, twenty is nijuu (two tens), and fifty is gojuu (five tens). The concept is simple. Look at these numbers:

the tens 10-90
juu 10
nijuu 20
sanjuu 30
yonjuu never "shi juu" 40
gojuu 50
rokujuu 60
nanajuu never "shichi juu" 70
hachijuu 80
kyuujuu never "ku juu" 90

juu-kyuujuu
10-90

B-4. Combining tens and singles up to 99

Now you know everything you need to know in order to count to 99. To make a number like 31, just string the numbers 30 and 1 together to make sanjuu ichi = sanjuuichi.

21-29
nijuuichi 21
nijuuni 22
nijuusan 23
nijuuyon 24
nijuugo 25
nijuuroku 26
nijuunana 27
nijuuhachi 28
nijuukyuu 29
nijuuichi-nijuukyuu 21-29
Mini Quiz
Click the to reveal the English.
1. sanjuuroku
2. gojuugo
3. kyuujuuni

Play All
Mini Quiz
Click the to reveal the Japanese.
1. forty eight (48)
2. seventy one (71)
3. sixty nine (69)

Play All
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 Culture Clip カルチャー・クリップSubmit a Question
Culture plays an important role in learning Japanese. Knowledge of modern and traditional culture will help you retain more information and learn faster!

More than one version for some numbers

A few Japanese numbers have multiple versions. Depending on the context, a different version is used. Sometimes one version must be used over the other, but many times the version used is a personal preference. There are also some cultural reasons for the different versions. The number four in Japanese is yon, or shi. The number 4 is a bad luck number because it has the same sound as the Kanji meaning “death” which is shi.

The number nine in Japanese is ku or kyuu. The Kanji ku also means pain or suffering. For these reasons, nine and four are considered to be unlucky in Japan. Many apartment buildings in Japan do not have apartments numbered four or nine. The different versions are used extensively in Japanese, so make sure to remember them.

Be sure to watch the video about the different versions in the related videos section of this lesson.

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 Counting 数えることSubmit a Question
Here are the rules of counting in Japanese. Japanese counting is quite different from western counting when numbers get larger than 9,999.

B-5. 100’s and 1000’s

With hyaku (hundreds) and sen (thousands) the pattern is basically the same, but there are some variations.

the hundreds – 100-900
hyaku never "ichi hyaku" 100
nihyaku 200
sanbyaku never "san hyaku" 300
yonhyaku never "shi hyaku" 400
gohyaku 500
roppyaku never "roku hyaku" 600
nanahyaku never "shichi hyaku" 700
happyaku never "hachi hyaku" 800
kyuuhyaku never "ku hyaku" 900
hyaku - kyuuhyaku 100 – 900
the thousands – 1,000-9,000
sen sometimes "issen" 1,000
nisen 2,000
sanzen never "san sen" 3,000
yonsen never "shi sen" 4,000
gosen 5,000
rokusen 6,000
nanasen never "shichi sen" 7,000
hassen never "hachi sen" 8,000
kyuusen never "ku sen" 9,000
sen-kyuusen 1000 – 9000

B-6. The 10,000 unit

The 1,000 unit ends at 9,000. After 9,000 the Japanese begin counting in units of 10,000. Each unit of 10,000 is called man. So, 10,000 is ichiman because it is 1 unit of 10,000. 20,000 is niman which is two units of 10,000. This is easy to grasp with practice.

the ten thousands – 10,000-90,000
ichiman can never be just "man" 10,000
niman 20,000
sanman 30,000
yonman never "shi man" 40,000
goman 50,000
rokuman 60,000
nanaman never "shichi man" 70,000
hachiman never "hamman" 80,000
kyuuman never "ku man" 90,000
ichiman-kyuuman 10,000 – 90,000

B-7. Above 90,000

When the numbers go past 90,000, this same pattern continues. Be careful though! At first students of Japanese tend to think that 100,000 is hyakuman. The reason for this is that in English 100,000 is one hundred thousand. Don’t let the word hundred fool you. A hundred units of man (10,000) is one million, NOT one hundred thousand. When you calculate the number you must count how many man are in the number. In the case of 100,000 there are ten man. Therefore the correct number in Japanese for 100,000 is juuman.

B-8. Some shortcuts

There is a shortcut for remembering the large numbers. Just remember the two numbers below as they are. Don’t think of how many man are in each number.

juuman hundred thousand unit
hyakuman million unit

If one hundred thousand is juuman then put a ni (two) in front of it to make nijuuman (200,000) as so on.

the hundred thousands – 100,000-900,000
juuman 100,000
nijuuman 200,000
sanjuuman 300,000
yonjuuman never "shi juu man" 400,000
gojuuman 500,000
rokujuuman 600,000
nanajuuman never "shichi juu man" 700,000
hachijuuman 800,000
kyuujuuman never "ku juu man" 900,000
juuman-kyuujuuman 100,000 – 900,000

You do the same for the millions.

the millions – 1,000,000-9,000,000
hyakuman never "ichi hyaku man" 1,000,000
nihyakuman 2,000,000
sanbyakuman never "san hyaku man" 3,000,000
yonhyakuman never "shi hyaku man" 4,000,000
gohyakuman 5,000,000
roppyakuman never "roku hyaku man" 6,000,000
nanahyakuman never "shichi hyaku man" 7,000,000
happyakuman never "hachi hyaku man" 8,000,000
kyuuhyakuman never "ku hyaku man" 9,000,000
hyakuman-kyuuhyakuman 1,000,000 – 9,000,000
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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).

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 Numbers (1-10) Submit a Question
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 Numbers (11-19) Submit a Question
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 Numbers (21-29) Submit a Question
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 Numbers (10-90) Submit a Question
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 Numbers (100s) Submit a Question
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 Numbers (1,000s) Submit a Question
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 Numbers (10,000s) Submit a Question
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 Numbers (100,000s) Submit a Question
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 Numbers (1,000,000s) Submit a Question
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