My dictionary says they are both translated to the word "nine".

Can someone help clarify this for me.

Thank you


2 Answers 2


ここのつ is a traditional Japanese word, while 九 is one of Chinese numerals (漢数字) which are common to most of Eastern Asian languages.

It also should be mentioned that you can't use 漢数字 without using a counter word (助数詞) for appropriate cathegory when counting objects. For example, the following are two different ways to say "there are 9 pencils" in Japanese:

「鉛筆が九本」 (where 本 is a counter word appropriate for pencils)

「鉛筆がここのつ」 (no counter word is needed here)

You may always replace 漢数字 with a traditional Japanese numeral in that way for all quantities that are equal or lesser than 9 - especially if you are not sure which counter word should be used with a cathegory of objects that you're trying to count, but sometimes this can be considered illiterate.

  • 3
    I would say that ここのつ isn't a "traditional Japanese word", but rather a native Japanese number + the counter word つ. When you say that 鉛筆がここのつ doesn't need a counter word, I would say it already contains a counter word...
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 6:53
  • 1
    ここのつ definitely contains a counter, but it's fair to call it a single lexical item. The counter つ doesn't attach productively in Modern Japanese, and all the numeral + つ combinations in use today are pre-formed and part of the lexicon.
    – user1478
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 12:28

kyuu is the basic number. kokonotsu is 9 of something. kokonoka is 9 days, kyuuhon is 9 glasses...

there are hundreds of those, they are called counters and you should study them to learn how they work. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_counter_word

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