# How do you read simple arithmetic equations in Japanese?

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?

• Aug 15, 2013 at 14:19
• It seems fitting that I add: fractions are read in reverse order to common U.S. English. 3/4, Three over four is read, 四分の三. 4 parts 3, or more appropriately translated "of 4 parts there are 3." Aug 30, 2013 at 9:42

`+`: 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
• interesting. the kids i've heard have just been saying ~かける~は～
– ssb
Aug 15, 2013 at 11:40
• Especially in math (classes) and with equations such as x+3=7, the "=" sign is also read イコール("equal(s)"). Aug 15, 2013 at 12:09
• 2乗根 is rarely used. use [平方]{へいほう}[根]{こん} instead. 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 `は`, 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
さん、かける、よんは、じゅうに
``````
• 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

さんかけるよんはじゅうにになります。

• Please correct me if it is never said this way. Aug 21, 2013 at 14:40
• I think `となります` is also used. 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. 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