My dictionary (EN → JP) suggests to translate "Three multiplied by four is twelve" as

3 × 4 = 12

without giving a hint as to how to read this in Japanese.

How do you read simple arithmetic equations (involving only +, –, × and ÷) like the one above in Japanese?


3 Answers 3


+: 足{た}す
-: 引{ひ}く
/: 割{わ}る
*: 掛{か}ける

And you just say the terms normally in order. So your example of 3 * 4 = 12 would be 3かける4は12. Note that = becomes は, similar to how we use "is" in English. As @blutorange mentioned, you can use イコール to mean "equals," however in most situations you'll be good using は.

You learn these things quickly when listening to students recite their 九九{くく}.

For some bonus terminology, you can refer to exponents by using #乗{じょう}, so like 2の二乗は4 or 2の3乗は8. Similarly you can refer to roots with #乗根{じょうこん} (although as @jovanni points out it's normal to use 平方根{へいほうこん} for square roots).

  • The 九九 in Japanese is usually learnt with a very different reading, though. E.g. 3*3=9 is さざんがく.
    – Earthliŋ
    Aug 15, 2013 at 11:26
  • 1
    interesting. the kids i've heard have just been saying ~かける~は~
    – ssb
    Aug 15, 2013 at 11:40
  • 1
    Especially in math (classes) and with equations such as x+3=7, the "=" sign is also read イコール("equal(s)").
    – blutorange
    Aug 15, 2013 at 12:09
  • 2乗根 is rarely used. use [平方]{へいほう}[根]{こん} instead.
    – jovanni
    Aug 21, 2013 at 6:35
  • @jovanni thank you! sorry I forgot to mention that.
    – ssb
    Aug 21, 2013 at 6:39

You can read the arithmetic operators as follows:

   +   たす    (足す)
   -   ひく    (引く)
   ×   かける   (掛ける)
   ÷   わる    (割る)

In place of the equals sign, you'd most likely use a particle such as , much as we might say "three times four is twelve" in English to make a complete sentence out of it. Your example looks like this:

  3   ×   4 = 12
  • 4
    As an aside, if you want fancy math symbols like × and ÷ instead of * and /, you can type かける and わる to get them. (On this computer, I can also get them by typing すうがく, which has lots of math symbols, and きごう, which has all sorts of symbols.)
    – user1478
    Aug 21, 2013 at 7:47

I would like to offer one more alternative, that of using になります at the end of this sentence. This is more formal and less common than just leaving it out.

3 × 4 = 12


  • Please correct me if it is never said this way.
    – yadokari
    Aug 21, 2013 at 14:40
  • I think となります is also used.
    – istrasci
    Aug 21, 2013 at 15:03
  • I think である and なり should be listed as well, but I am not 100% on their usage--just rephrasing a previous sawa answer.
    – yadokari
    Aug 21, 2013 at 16:28
  • So "san kakeru yon wa juuni daeru" would be considered okay, but not, say... "san kakeru yon wa juuni desu"...? Mar 1, 2018 at 4:02
  • Curious, there is no numeral in native Japanese? Everybody seems to write Arabic numerals.
    – hola
    Jan 5, 2022 at 13:49

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