Are there proper terms for the methods of writing numbers in kanji (literal vs powers-of-10)?




If not (or the terms are too scientific) how to differentiate between them in speech? Like 「〇〇文字を使って、書いて下さい」

I am primarily asking for Japanese terms, but I have no clue about English either (initially though of decimal, but in fact both methods use decimal system).

  • 1
    In English we can talk about whether a numeral system is positional. (一五三六 is, 千五百三十六 isn't.) Positional systems are often called place-value systems, and the non-positional system in question here is sometimes called a multiplicative system. (You can find more information searching for these terms!)
    – user1478
    Oct 20, 2015 at 1:17
  • Excel uses the name 漢数字 for the first notation, but surprisingly there is no setting for 位取り表記法, so I am still not sure if it is unambiguous.
    – macraf
    Oct 20, 2015 at 2:24

1 Answer 1


The former method is 命数法【めいすうほう】, and the latter is 位【くらい】取【ど】り記数法【きすうほう】, although they're not known to most people. See this, this, or this book.

Wikipedia says that, in English, 10000 is written as 10000 in 記数法 and as ten thousand in 命数法.

I personally knew 位取り記数法, but I haven't recognized 命数法 as the opposing idea of 記数法.

Either way, most people (including me) do not use specific terms to distinguish the two methods in daily life. We just distinguish them by example (eg, 「二千十五」のように「千・百」といった単位を記載する方法と、「二〇一五」のように、単位数字を省いて単に漢数字を並べる方法…).

  • If someone asked to use 漢数字 started to write 二〇一五 and you would want to change the notation she used, isn't there a shorter instruction to say? Like しゃべる通り or so?
    – macraf
    Oct 20, 2015 at 6:14
  • @macraf しゃべる通り works, but you are likely to need an example to make her understood with confidence.
    – naruto
    Oct 20, 2015 at 6:30
  • What about some well-known common example? Positional notation: 西暦のように書いてください (should work, right?); multiplicative: ◯◯のように書いてください (is there any?)
    – macraf
    Oct 20, 2015 at 11:49
  • 1
    A year in 西暦 can be (at least theoretically) written like 二千十五. 「電話番号のように」 may be OK, but I'm not sure if people will understand your intention only by this, if there's no actual example.
    – naruto
    Oct 20, 2015 at 12:05

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