Japanese Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students, teachers, and linguists wanting to discuss the finer points of the Japanese language. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've seen multiple language books, videos, etc. refer to this great, wonderful, magnificent general-purpose counter known as つ. The problem? I've also seen multiple source say that つ doesn't work with numbers greater than 10. Which means I can't personally take this very seriously, and unfortunately, language manuals tend to just skip over any explanation of what you're supposed to do with numbers greater than 10.

Maybe they just mean that you have to change over from the ひとつ、ふたつ、みっつ counting system to the いち、に、さん counting system, but if that's so, there's no way to tell from the way that language manuals tend to word this. So what do you do for general-purpose counting after 10 (or before 1)?

share|improve this question
up vote 2 down vote accepted

For general purposes, if you don't know a more specific one to apply, the common practice is to use 個【こ】. In limited cases I've heard it advised to use just the number without a counter as well, but I generally try to avoid this if possible.

share|improve this answer
Is it grammatical to use 個 if you don't know the counter or forgot it or whatever? (even if it sounds weird) – 無色受想行識 Apr 18 '14 at 21:41

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.