|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|
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|
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|
|yonjuu||never "shi juu"||40|
|nanajuu||never "shichi juu"||70|
|kyuujuu||never "ku juu"||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.
|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.
|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|
|sanbyaku||never "san hyaku"||300|
|yonhyaku||never "shi hyaku"||400|
|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|
|sanzen||never "san sen"||3,000|
|yonsen||never "shi sen"||4,000|
|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|
|yonman||never "shi man"||40,000|
|nanaman||never "shichi man"||70,000|
|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|
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|
|yonjuuman||never "shi juu man"||400,000|
|nanajuuman||never "shichi juu man"||700,000|
|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|
|sanbyakuman||never "san hyaku man"||3,000,000|
|yonhyakuman||never "shi hyaku man"||4,000,000|
|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|