Blogs edited and submitted by Chiho Kamioka

JOI Support staff and manager.

  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.

Counting in Japanese

Posted by on in Japanese language
  • Font size: Larger Smaller
  • Hits: 508
  • 1 Comment
  • Subscribe to this entry
  • Print

Japanese counter words

When you are learning Japanese for the first time, one of the things that you first stumble upon is the variety of counter words. As you progress to learn more advanced Japanese, these words just seem to increase. The words often change grammatically depending on the numbers proceeding them, and they can alter according to the size or shape of the thing being counted.

Learning them is essential for mastering the Japanese language, and in this Japanese blog to help you study the language, written by professional Japanese teachers, we explore the idea of counters or counter words.

Japanese teacher, Ayako Suzuki wrote this blog, and you can read the Japanese without Kanji help and also read it with the Kanji help. And then please listen to the video to hear the Japanese words spoken fluently.

日本語の数え方
Counting in Japanese

suzuki

By SUZUKI Ayako

medicine

 日本語にはものを数えるときに使う言葉がいろいろあり、数えるものによって、数え方が違います。紙を数えるときは「1枚」「2枚」、本を数えるときは「1冊」「2冊」 、車なら「1台」「2台」と数えます。この「枚」「冊」「台」のような、数といっしょに使う言葉を「助数詞」と呼んでいます。

 この助数詞、日本語には約500種類もあるそうです。とても多いので、日本人でも全部使いこなしている人はいないでしょうし、たくさんある助数詞を使い分けるのは面倒だと思う人もいるかもしれません。でも、便利な面もあります。

 例えば、小さい動物は「匹」、大きい動物は「頭」を使って数えますが、「犬を1頭飼っている」と聞けば、私たちは大型犬を飼っているのだと想像できます。また、「薬を1錠飲んだ」と言えば錠剤の薬で、「薬を1包飲んだ」なら粉薬だということが、薬の形状を言わなくても相手に伝わります。魚屋で「アジを3枚ください」と言えば、そのままの形のアジではなく、干物のことを指しているとすぐにわかります。

 奥が深い日本語の助数詞、ぜひ味わってみてくださいね。

To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video. 

 日本語(にほんご)にはものを数(かぞ)えるときに使(つか)う言葉(ことば)がいろいろあり、数(かぞ)えるものによって、数(かぞ)え方(かた)が違(ちが)います。紙(かみ)を数(かぞ)えるときは「1枚(まい)」「2枚(まい)」、本(ほん)を数(かぞ)えるときは「1冊(さつ)」「2冊(さつ)」、車(くるま)なら「1台(いちだい)」「2台(にだい)」と数(かぞ)えます。この「枚(まい)」「冊(さつ)」「台(だい)」のような、数(かず)といっしょに使(つか)う言葉(ことば)を「助数詞(じょすうし)」と呼(よ)んでいます。

 この助数詞(じょすうし)、日本語(にほんご)には約(やく)500種類(しゅるい)もあるそうです。とても多(おお)いので、日本人(にほんんじん)でも全部(ぜんぶ)使(つか)いこなしている人(ひと)はいないでしょうし、たくさんある助数詞(じょすうし)を使(つか)い分(わ)けるのは面倒(めんどう)だと思(おも)う人(ひと)もいるかもしれません。でも、便利(べんり)な面(めん)もあります。

 例(たと)えば、小(ちい)さい動物(どうぶつ)は「匹(ひき)」、大(おお)きい動物(どうぶつ)は「頭(とう)」を使(つか)って数(かぞ)えますが、「犬(いぬ)を1頭(とう)飼(か)っている」と聞(き)けば、私(わたし)たちは大型犬(おおがたけん)を飼(か)っているのだと想像(そうぞう)できます。また、「薬(くすり)を1錠(じょう)飲(の)んだ」と言(い)えば錠剤(じょうざい)の薬(くすり)で、「薬(くすり)を1包(ぽう)飲(の)んだ」なら粉薬(こなぐすり)だということが、薬(くすり)の形状(けいじょう)を言(い)わなくても相手(あいて)に伝(つた)わります。魚屋(さかなや)で「アジを3枚(まい)ください」と言(い)えば、そのままの形(かたち)のアジではなく、干物(ひもの)のことを指(さ)しているとすぐにわかります。

 奥(おく)が深(ふか)い日本語(にほんご)の助数詞(じょすうし)、ぜひ味(あじ)わってみてくださいね

Counting in Japanese

In Japanese there are various words used when counting things, and depending on the thing being counted, the words are different. When counting paper we say, 'ichi mai', 'ni mai'; when counting books we say 'issatsu', 'ni satsu' ; for cars we count them using 'ichi dai', 'ni dai' . These words which we use together with numbers like 'mai', 'satsu' and 'dai' are called “counters”.

Apparently there are about 500 of these counters in Japanese. There are so very many of them, that there is probably no Japanese person that has a complete command of them all and there are probably some people who find the different uses of these many counters a hassle. But there are some convenient sides to this.

For example, small animals have the counter 'hiki' and large animals use 'tou' to count them and when someone says “I have a pet dog (using the counter 'tou')” we can imagine that the person has a large pet dog. And when someone says, “I took some medicine (using the counter 'jyou') we understand that it is a pill of medicine, and if they say “I took some medicine (using the counter 'hou') then the other person understands that it is medicine in powder form without any further explanation. In the fish shop, if you say, “3 horse mackerels please” (using the counter 'mai') then they soon understand that it's not the whole horse mackerel you are indicating but some dried horse mackerel.

Please give these profound Japanese counters a go while you learn Japanese.

助数詞(じょすうし)  a counter

使(つか)いこなす  have a good command; make full use; use ~ really well

使(つか)い分(わ)ける  use different ~ for different purposes

干物(ひもの)  dried fish

奥(おく)が深(ふか)い  profound; deep 

suzuki

Konnichiwa. My name is Ayako Suzuki.
I live in Tochigi prefecture with my husband and two children. Tochigi has two towns that are very popular tourist attractions; Nikko, which is famous for its World Heritage shrine and its wonderful nature, and Mashiko which is famous for its pottery. Its only two hours by train from Tokyo, so if you get that chance, please come and visit Tochigi.
Through the language of Japanese, I am happy to and looking forward to meeting you all. Lets study Japanese together.

Start 3 Trial FlexLessons for only $9 !

Last modified on

Comments

  • Daniel Tuesday, 24 April 2018

    I think your post is very interesting and mostly, I keep looking for like this type of websites where I learn or get new concept. I am happy to visit on your site. Thanks to share it. I was more than happy to find this web site. I need to thank you for your moment due to this unbelievable read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and I have you book-marked to see new things in your web site. https://rospher.com/

Leave your comment

Guest Wednesday, 19 December 2018