What is more appropriate: using the normal counting rules or using the numeral+counter directly as the subject?



一人が来ました/7人が来ました etc?

Are they both ok? Is there a nuance? Is the first pattern redundant since numeral+人 already indicates a person?

2 Answers 2


Short answer is, it can but idiomaticity depends.

一人の人が来ました is perhaps just as unnatural as One person came.

To mean 'someone came' or 'there is a person coming', it would be 人が来ました or 人が一人来ました.

  • ある人が来ました could be used. It sounds like the person is kind of important in the context.

  • 一人が来ました could be used if the context clarifies one what (e.g., in answering 子供が来ませんでしたか), but even then 一人来ました would be more natural.

  • 人一人が is used to emphasize that there exists a person. So it would not fit in a sentence like 来ました. 人一人が死んでいるですよ! is possible (to talk about how serious an incident is).


To answer a question like 'how many people came here today?', I think the most simple response is X人来ました.

今日お客さんが何人来ましたか? - 一人来ました。

I think the second sentence inherits the first sentence's subject お客さんが. So *一人が来ました would have a conflict here.

For the 一人が pattern, the example below is possible, at least in literature.



The last part refers to people that have been introduced earlier (七人の男女).

This may be analogous to sentences like "One came." You can use 'one' to refer to a person, but you usually need a context to establish what you are counting, like "We had three visitors so far today. One came at 9. Two came at 11." The Japanese quote above has a similar structure.

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