This is from an exercise in Tobira Grammar Power, you had to explain what 'bilingual' is using the というのは~ということ/という意味だ.

I wrote「バイリンガル」というのは、言葉が2つ話せるといういみです。, But in the answer key it says 2つの言葉が話せる. Obviously the answer key is right, however I vaguely remember seeing Nが[number]つV a long time ago, and it being as correct as the [number]つのNがV structure.

I'm not sure though, so is 「バイリンガル」というのは、言葉が2つ話せるといういみです。incorrect? If it isn't, does it sound unnatural compared to 「バイリンガル」というのは、2つの言葉が話せるといういみです。?

  • 「言葉が二つ」 sounds like two words/phrases. I'd use 二ヶ国語 or 2言語.
    – Eddie Kal
    Nov 3 '21 at 22:01
  • Ahh yeah I guess it doesn't sound good with verbs in the potential form since you'd have to use が instead of を, making it look like the sentence is Nが~つです.. would it be fine with regular verbs though, where you'd use を instead?
    – Kay
    Nov 3 '21 at 22:09
  • Oh also isn't 二ヶ only used with months?
    – Kay
    Nov 3 '21 at 22:10

Both 2つの言葉が話せる and 言葉が2つ話せる are perfectly correct. 2つの言葉が話せる tends to sound slightly more technical, but it's natural to use some stiff expressions when talking about the definition of a word. This has been asked several times on this site.

And it's perfectly fine to use 言葉 here, too, because it means both language and word. If you want to avoid all misunderstandings, you can use 言語 instead, but usually you don't have to worry that much. 2か国語が話せる is also correct (one may argue "two languages" and "languages of two countries" are not necessarily the same, but this is a fixed phrase and there is no room for misunderstanding).

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