I'm learning Japanese and using busuu. A native speaker corrected my exercise but I dont understand what the green corrections mean. They teach me vocab and not much grammar. Please help!enter image description here

  • How did you know the instructions without knowing much grammar? – istrasci Jul 15 '19 at 21:44
  • It has a translate option so I can see it in English but after I answer for some reason it only allows the question to be read in Japanese – Courtney Abney Jul 16 '19 at 9:49

人 is a person, but the word you're looking at is 一人, pronounced ひとり. It's made up of the kanji ー for "one" and 人 for "person", and it means "one person.” In this case,


means "one daughter."

Also note that in the same sentence:


The 二人 is pronounced ふたり and means "two (people)".

  • 3
    And if you want to get technical 人 there is used as the counter for counting people. – ratchet freak Jul 15 '19 at 16:40
  • Oh, thank you very much! The person that corrected me doesnt speak English so I couldn't ask her :( Your explanation makes more sense ^-^ – Courtney Abney Jul 16 '19 at 9:50

In Japanese it is required that you add a counter word to virtually any number. Just “一” by itself has little practical meaning; one-what exactly?

This is a somewhat foreign concept in English, but is not without precedent. For instance, you need to say “one sheet of paper”. Just “one paper” can be understood, but can also be misunderstood and sounds unnatural at the very least. The thing in Japanese is that you need something like “sheet of” for everything, even where it might sound redundant in English.

  • 紙一枚: one sheet of paper, 枚 counts flat things
  • 車一台: one car, 台 counts machines
  • りんご一個: one apple, 個 counts smallish roundish things
  • 一人: one person, 人 counts people and means “person”

And yes, the list of counter words is sheer endless.

The thing specifically with 一人 is that it can also mean “lonely” or “only”, and the correct construction for “one daughter” is 娘一人 or, if you turn it around, 一人の娘. Just 一人娘 would mean something like “only daughter”.

  • So it's basically just memorizing counter words there isnt really a set rule? I can remember vocab but when it comes to sentence structure, I'm terrible 😭 busuu doesnt teach any grammar ! But thank you, I had no idea about the counter word concept! – Courtney Abney Jul 16 '19 at 9:53
  • Yes, you need to remember a handful of the most common counters, remember that any time you use a number you probably also need one of those counters, and from there it’ll come somewhat naturally to say “○一個” or “一個の○”, once you’re used to the language a bit more. – deceze Jul 16 '19 at 9:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.