A counter word is a suffix attached to a number to use the number to count things, people, or events.

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Why was “一匹” used for Godzilla?

I've heard someone say that "一匹" was used at the end of the original Godzilla movie, with Dr. Yamane saying that Godzilla wasn't the last one of "them". Why did he use that, as opposed to "一頭"? Do ...
19
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4answers
985 views

Differences between 度 and 回 when counting occurrences

What are the differences between using 度 and 回 when used to count number of occurrences? For example: そんなことは一度もしたことがない そんなことは一回もしたことがない Are there any restrictions on what kind of actions referred ...
17
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1answer
2k views

Can you say “half hour” or must you say “30 minutes”?

I know that to say an hour and a half you can say 一時間半, but is it possible to express simply half an hour even though the counter comes before 半? Or would you just have to say 三十分? If both ways are ...
16
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4answers
1k views

Why is the correct counter for rabbits 羽(わ)

Why is the correct counter for rabbits 羽(わ), the counter that is used for birds. I figured it is because they jump, cause fly and jump are the same verb in Japanese, but then frogs are 匹.
15
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1answer
512 views

Temperature abbreviations?

A certain dialog in my book has a man describing the symptoms of his cold to the doctor. It reads thus: 医者:熱はありますか。 ...
15
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2answers
448 views

What are the rules for reading numbers before a foreign counter-word?

Is there a rule of thumb for knowing the reading of a number when it is written in western numerals, and is followed by a loaned counter-word? For example, how would you pronounce the "1" in 1セット? My ...
12
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4answers
976 views

Counter for chopsticks

Just curious about this one. I'm never sure what to say when I ask for chopsticks in Japanese. I know that "by-the-book", you can count them with ~そろい (揃い) or ~ぜん (膳). So I always say 「お箸を ...
12
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2answers
255 views

How to read the X in 5X4間?

A book about architecture I'm trying to read (it's a bit of a slog what with the technical jargon and such) contained this description of a temple building: 二重、初重5X4間、裳階 (もこし) つき、上重4X3間. So it's two ...
11
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4answers
381 views

Counters In Japanese

I'm a super beginner in Japanese, so excuse me if this question is really simple. Or stupid. As an exercise, sometimes I count up the things on nearby desks or tables and try to list them in ...
11
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1answer
406 views

Why is 間{かん} used to denote some amounts of time but not others?

I've been thinking about how to express a duration of time and how in the past I have added 間{かん} in situations where I found that I shouldn't have. Take the following sentences as examples. ○: ...
10
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3answers
2k views

Are there native Japanese numbers greater than 10? What use are they?

Most people who've taken a Japanese 101 class know the 10 native Japanese numbers (一つ、二つ・・・十). It's always seemed odd that a system would stop at 10 when so many things in life need larger numbers. ...
10
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2answers
319 views

Counter for 熊 (bears): ひき or 頭?

While hiking I saw 3 bears, and I have heard a lot of people say ひき to count them. There was a mother and two small ones, if that matters. But when talking about it I also have been told that 頭 ...
10
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1answer
260 views

The first: 第一 vs 一番 vs 第一番

What are differences among 第一, 一番 and 第一番, all of which seem to mean "the first" in English? Are any of them more suitable for some specific scenarios than the others (e.g. 安全第一 but 世界で一番)?
10
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1answer
280 views

What counter words are used by animals for humans?

In Happy Feet 2, I noticed that the penguins used the hitori, futari, ... counter words for themselves, rather than 羽. In fiction involving talking animals where the humans are regarded as somewhat ...
9
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1answer
346 views

Which counter did you use for counting TV series episodes?

I want to say "I saw 10 episodes", but i don't find the appropriate counter. I may use "つ" counter (十エピソードを見ました), but it's not very classy. Thanks a lot :)
9
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1answer
789 views

Gregorian calendar year to Japanese era name, and vice versa [closed]

Just for fun, I'm curious about how native speakers do mental translation from Gregorian calendar year (e.g 2011) to Japanese era name 年号 (e.g. 平成23年), and vice versa. Do you have special and ...
8
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1answer
304 views

Why is 「人口」 used to denote population?

I'm just curious at the appearance of 「口」 that makes this word mean "population". Why should it be 「口」 as opposed to any other body part or anything else? Is there a definitive reason or story ...
8
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1answer
569 views

Why biiru hitotsu rather than ippai?

While having Ghengis Khan with some dou-min, one of them asked for "biiru hitotsu". While I could understand the biiru, I was surprised that ippai wasn't used. I understand that (number)-tsu is valid ...
8
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1answer
366 views

Is there a general counter word for objects that you can fallback on if you're not sure which one to use?

I guess we could use the native Japanese numbers, 一つ, 二つ, 三つ...but we'd run into a problem at or after ten (not sure how とお works — same for はたち). Is there a general counter word that we can fallback ...
7
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2answers
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Is B2F, B1F, 1F, 2F, … wasei-eigo?

While visiting Tokyo, I noticed that most levels were indicated by B2F, B1F, 1F, 2F, ... . This doesn't look like the Romaji for -kai or -gai counter-words, which I assume would be chika ni-kai, ...
7
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1answer
145 views

How to list numbers of things

Where do you place the counter in Japanese when you want to specify how many of something there are, especially if you're listing multiple things? I believe the counter usually goes after the ...
7
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2answers
372 views

Why are movies/video-clips counted with 本?

I just noticed in my Facebook uploads that for my videos, it says I have 25本. What's the reasoning behind using 〜本 to count videos or movie clips? The only line of reasoning I can come up with would ...
7
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2answers
251 views

Can counter words also be nouns?

According to people I've asked, and this page, if I pay 20 Australian dollars for my meal, it seems I say ni ju doru (20-ドル), and that ni ju-en doru (20-えん-ドル) would be ungrammatical - "dollar" acts ...
7
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2answers
266 views

Do we use odd day pronunciations outside of calendar ranges?

After reading @jkerian's comment in this post, I started thinking about this. Here's the comment in full: On a side note, all days ending in '4' are also irregular, and use ~よっか. So the 14th is ...
6
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2answers
998 views

List of Japanese counter words [closed]

What are the essential Japanese counter words? For example -dai for machines, -mai for papers and stuff like that. What else to expect/know? Thank you
6
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2answers
236 views

ひき or 頭 for horses?

Initially I'd thought ひき is for small animals and 頭 is for animals that are not small ("big" animals) however EDICT (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1MUE%E3%81%B2%E3%81%8D) ...
6
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2answers
188 views

Numbers and Counters

I am still in a very early stage in learning Japanese, and just I have just learnt some numbers and my first counter words, such as the ones for telling time and まい. Do you ever use "regular" numbers ...
6
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2answers
205 views

When to read 一人 and 二人 as いちにん and ににん?

WWWJDIC lists いちにん and ににん as alternative readings of 一人 {ひとり} and 二人 {ふたり}, but I can't recall anywhere I heard those readings except when counting more than 10 people for example 三十一人 {さんじゅういちにん}. ...
6
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1answer
123 views

Reading of 組 as a Counter Word With Numbers

I'm confused about how to pronounce a word such as 一組. Are Japanese or Chinese numbers used when using 組 as a counter, and if the former how does it change phonetically? For example, jisho.org lists ...
6
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1answer
143 views

What is the counter used for doors?

This is from deceze, but what is the counter used for doors. Is it 枚(mai) or something else?
5
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2answers
345 views

How do you use counters past 10?

Counter words have different readings for 1 through 10. How do I use them for number 11 and beyond? Do I change the counter's pronunciation based on the last digit of the number? So if the number ...
5
votes
2answers
214 views

How can I say “counted in (specific unit)”?

Specifically, I am trying to say something like "a semester's length is counted in months" in order to imply how short it is as compared to, say, your whole life. When I tried to look this up in my ...
5
votes
2answers
242 views

Counters for graphs in oral presentations?

I have to make a Japanese presentation and I'd like to say "I'll explain japanese demographics using three graphs", but then realized I didn't know the counter for graphs. Can someone help me out?
5
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1answer
233 views

How to say “Episode 22”, “Chapter 22”, “Act 22”, etc?

I just wanted to make sure that my understanding is correct. When saying Chapter 22, Act 22, or Episode 22 (basically parts of a larger piece), it normally starts with 第22 (or 第[number]) and then the ...
5
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1answer
148 views

Is 圧力 countable?

Consider the following sentence (emphasis mine): ひょっとしたら僕が​圧力の一つや二つをかけられて​いることも知っているのかもしれない。 The bolded part is kind of confusing me. I get that 圧力をかけられる means "to be pressured" or "to have ...
5
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2answers
158 views

Are ~つ and ~り the only two counters that can occur with the native Japanese numbers (ひと~, ふた~, etc)?

Please go easy on me if this seems too basic and obvious, I'm a beginner. I always had the impression that there were counters that went with the native Japanese numbers and counters that went with ...
5
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1answer
285 views

「二番」 vs. 「二番目」 confusion

I am confused by 「二番」vs.「二番目」、「三番」vs.「三番目」etc. While 「一番速い人。」 seems grammatically correct and sounds ok to me, 「二番速い人。」 sounds so unnatural to me I am thinking the grammar might be wrong. But, if ...
4
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4answers
886 views

Is there a logic behind the different endings when counting things in Japanese

So far I don't see any logic to it. It seems like it's just something you have to memorize, or is there a trick that I'm missing. Update To clarify, I'm not so much questioning the existence of the ...
4
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1answer
98 views

Exceptions in pronouncing the counter for minutes (分)

I'm learning the counter for minutes, which is 分. I know, there are several exceptions in reading this counter. 1 min = いっぷん 2 min = にふん 3 min = さんぷん 4 min = よんぷん 5 min = ごふん 6 min = ろっぷん 7 min = ...
4
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2answers
72 views

Can number + 部 mean the number of copies?

For an upcoming conference, I'm supposed to bring copies of my own materials. One sentence contains a phrase that I'm a little unsure how to understand. First the Japanese sentence in its entirety: ...
4
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1answer
194 views

“Line of code” in Japanese

I've been doing a bit of work with rendering 縦書き【たてがき】 in HTML, and was having a running internal monologue in Japanese about how things were progressing when I hit on a missing word: "line" as in ...
4
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1answer
79 views

What do you use for a general-purpose counter when there are more that 10?

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 ...
3
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1answer
185 views

How do you ask for ordinality (order in a sequence)?

What phrase do you use to ask for the n-th position of an object? Is there a straightforward and general way to do so? e.g. order of childbirth, place did the runner finish Since you can use 3人目 ...
3
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2answers
151 views

Are most counter words made up of two parts? What are those two parts called?

When looking at counter words, there seems to be a part that has a number, and a part that stays more or less the same. For example, the counter words for hours of a day are ichi-ji, ni-ji, san-ji. ...
3
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1answer
66 views

Using 次 as a counter

In cases such as [第二次全世界戦争]{だいにじぜんせかいせんそう} or [第二次]{だいにじ}スーパーロボット[大戦]{たいせん}, is [次]{じ} effectively just acting the way a number followed by st/nd/rd/th would in English?
3
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2answers
342 views

Counter for bowls of ramen?

I'm writing a skit but I need a counter for bowls of ramen. ひとつ ふたつ somehow sounds weird. Is there a counter for bowls?
3
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1answer
68 views

1カ所: いっかしょ or いちかしょ?

What is the correct pronunciation for 1カ所 ? It means: 1 place Context: ユーティリティ関数として定義されているわりには1カ所からしか呼ばれていない。 It is defined as a utility function, but only called in one place.
3
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1answer
167 views

Are there rules of thumb for counter sound changes?

I'm wondering if there are consistent (or at least fairly reliable) rules for how to read numbers next to irregular counters, i.e. counters where you can't just put together the number and counter ...
3
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1answer
157 views

Difference between tatami mat counters 帖 and 畳

What is the difference between tatami mat counters 帖 and 畳 (both pronounced じょう)?
2
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1answer
118 views

Any Ideas What 十二本の腕 Means?

In Monkey Majik's song "Change" they say "Time to Party 十二本の腕", what does 十二本の腕 means? Isn't it just 12, counter for long objects, arms? Why would this be applicable?