I usually hear 個 referred to as a general purpose counter (which is how it is used in Chinese) similar to hitotsu, futatsu, etc... I just read a source which claims that it tends to refer to 3-dimensional objects and contrasts with 本 in this way:

ni-hon no nasu = two (long) eggplants

ni-ko no nasu = two (round) eggplants

Is this correct or would "ni-ko no nasu" be better left as "two (unspecified) eggplants"?

  • 3
    「2本のなす」 sounds "translated". 「なす2本」 would sound so much more natural.
    – user4032
    Commented Feb 27, 2014 at 23:01

1 Answer 1


Hm that's quite hard.. If you say パンが一本 it definitely does not mean bread that is round or cubicle (it has to be long in some sense), whereas パンが一個 could both refer to round/cubicle one or a longer one.

I'd say "two (unspecified) eggplants" would be more correct. You definitely can't convey without ambiguity that it's not long by referring to it as 個

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