In the deckbuilding card game Slay the Spire, I encountered this card description:


(弱体 is a status effect that in this case, lasts for 2 turns.)

Previously I had only seen numbers come before their counters, so I wondered why the choice was made to put it afterwards in the second sentence.

The only analysis I could think of is that this is a noun + number + counter combination, where there's an implied counter being omitted, as in:


My question is why would one put a number after a counter/noun, how does it work grammatically, and how does it differ in meaning with putting it beforehand?

  • I think this is a counter being omitted, kind of like in recipes where they specify e.g. 砂糖大さじ2 (implying 杯). My follow-up question would be, if you had to read this out, do you read out the implied counter?
    – jogloran
    Aug 31, 2022 at 18:11
  • Related: Noun 片道 seemingly used as adverb
    – naruto
    Aug 27, 2023 at 18:25

1 Answer 1


In short, 2弱体 looks like "two 弱体's" or "two units of 弱体", whereas 弱体2 looks like "弱体 type 2", "弱体 level 2", "弱体 II", etc.

When a word comes after a number, it describes the unit/counter of the number. When a word comes before a number, it describes the type of the number. Common examples:

  • 秒速5メートル: 5 meters per second (lit., "5 meters in per-second speed")
  • 摂氏30度: 30 degrees in celsius
  • 地上5000メートル: 5000 meters above ground
  • 震度5強: Intensity 5+ in JMA Seismic Scale

Note that 秒速 and so on are not technically counters (it's not "5 speeds", "30 celsiuses", "5000 grounds", "5 scales").

Some words work as both. For example, バージョン3 means "Version 3", whereas 3バージョン means "3 versions". バージョン is a counter only in the latter.

In your example, 弱体2 is unit-less, so you first need to refer to the rule book to see what it means. It's probably a stronger version of 弱体, but 弱体2 is not necessarily twice as strong as 弱体. If 弱体 is clearly defined as a "stackable" status that works additively, 弱体2 and 2弱体 might refer to the same thing ("two levels/layers of 弱体").

  • Yes, 弱体 is one debuff that can be stacked only to improve its duration, so I think a counter was omitted because it was something as neutral as "units"; and the same is not done for ダメージ since it is already commonly accepted as a counter.
    – teeferz
    Sep 1, 2022 at 1:28
  • @teeferz Then 弱体 is stackable and works additively, so 弱体2 is twice as long as normal 弱体. Perhaps the author could not think of a good counter :)
    – naruto
    Sep 1, 2022 at 2:22

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