Questions tagged [counters]

助数詞. Suffixes attached to numbers to indicate what is being counted. In linguistics, these are sometimes called 'classifiers'. The combination of a number plus a classifier forms a type of 'quantifier', and the movement of quantifiers into other parts of the sentence is called 'quantifier float'.

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How to list numbers of things

Where do you place the counter in Japanese when you want to specify how many of something there are, especially if you're listing multiple things? I believe the counter usually goes after the particle ...
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10 votes
2 answers
459 views

Do we use odd day pronunciations outside of calendar ranges?

After reading @jkerian's comment in this post, I started thinking about this. Here's the comment in full: On a side note, all days ending in '4' are also irregular, and use ~よっか. So the 14th is じゅう・...
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13 votes
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「二番」 vs. 「二番目」 confusion

I am confused by 「二番」vs.「二番目」、「三番」vs.「三番目」etc. While 「一番速い人。」 seems grammatically correct and sounds ok to me, 「二番速い人。」 sounds so unnatural to me I am thinking the grammar might be wrong. But, if 「...
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8 votes
3 answers
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Structure: thing を numeral (or numeral and counter) ください

My first question is, are counters always required when counting things? Can't I just slap a number in front of the noun? For example,「いちりんご」for one apple? Secondly, in Lesson 5 of the Japanese For ...
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2 votes
1 answer
1k views

Use of も with counter

The writer is complaining that men are useless at cooking. They burn pans, they make more mess than is necessary and: ...、何枚も皿をつかう、... I can't fully understand this construction. I know the ...
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11 votes
2 answers
883 views

Counter for 熊 (bears): ひき or 頭?

While hiking I saw 3 bears, and I have heard a lot of people say ひき to count them. There was a mother and two small ones, if that matters. But when talking about it I also have been told that 頭 ...
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3 votes
2 answers
281 views

Counters with and without の

I'm currently reading a short paragraph here that has the following sentences: 男{おとこ}はそう言{い}うと、もう一枚{いちまい}マントを出{だ}して、急{いそ}いで着{き}ました。北風{きたかぜ}は二{に}枚{まい}のマントを脱{ぬ}がせるために、もっと強{つよ}く風{かぜ}を吹{ふ}きました。 In ...
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32 votes
4 answers
10k views

Differences between 度 and 回 when counting occurrences

What are the differences between using 度 and 回 when used to count number of occurrences? For example: そんなことは一度もしたことがない そんなことは一回もしたことがない Are there any restrictions on what kind of actions referred ...
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38 votes
3 answers
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Why was "一匹" used for Godzilla?

I've heard someone say that "一匹{いっぴき}" was used at the end of the original Godzilla movie, with Dr. Yamane saying that Godzilla wasn't the last one of "them". Why did he use that, as opposed to "一頭{...
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5 votes
1 answer
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Are there rules of thumb for counter sound changes?

I'm wondering if there are consistent (or at least fairly reliable) rules for how to read numbers next to irregular counters, i.e. counters where you can't just put together the number and counter ...
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3 votes
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What's the counter for episodes?

How can I say "I watched 13 episodes so far" in Japanese? What is the counter for episodes? I also would like to know the right word for episode. Is it 挿話? That's what I found on jisho.org but since ...
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9 votes
2 answers
467 views

Numbers and Counters

I am still in a very early stage in learning Japanese, and just I have just learnt some numbers and my first counter words, such as the ones for telling time and まい. Do you ever use "regular" numbers ...
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Placing a quantifier between a noun and particle?

this is my first question here so please bare with me. Until the other day I was aware of two different ways use counters As an adverb. ペンを3本買いました。 As a noun. 3本のペンを買いました。 The ...
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16 votes
2 answers
785 views

What are the rules for reading numbers before a foreign counter-word?

Is there a rule of thumb for knowing the reading of a number when it is written in western numerals, and is followed by a loaned counter-word? For example, how would you pronounce the "1" in 1セット? My ...
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10 votes
2 answers
4k views

Why are movies/video-clips counted with 本?

I just noticed in my Facebook uploads that for my videos, it says I have 25本. What's the reasoning behind using 〜本 to count videos or movie clips? The only line of reasoning I can come up with would ...
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3 votes
1 answer
710 views

How do you ask for ordinality (order in a sequence)?

What phrase do you use to ask for the n-th position of an object? Is there a straightforward and general way to do so? e.g. order of childbirth, place did the runner finish Since you can use 3人目 ...
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2 votes
2 answers
908 views

What does 何+(counter)+も+volitional mean? e.g. 何機も買おう

I found this sentence as an answer to the question: "What are some of the symbols of Japan's wealth?" 次期主力戦闘機を何機も買おうとしていること I'm not sure whether it means they're buying a lot of next-generation ...
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6 votes
2 answers
975 views

When to read 一人 and 二人 as いちにん and ににん?

WWWJDIC lists いちにん and ににん as alternative readings of 一人 {ひとり} and 二人 {ふたり}, but I can't recall anywhere I heard those readings except when counting more than 10 people for example 三十一人 {さんじゅういちにん}. ...
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4 votes
1 answer
737 views

Different ways to say several

何本か重要な電話をかけ、... He made several important phone calls and ... As I puzzled about why phone calls might use the counter 本 (see this question) I wondered more generally about how to say several. Is ...
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2 votes
2 answers
258 views

Why is 1st floor written as ikkai いっかい?

Should it not be い かい as I thought the counter for floors was -kai ?
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4 votes
1 answer
603 views

Leaving away the 目 suffix for ordinal numbers

I've seen 「1ページ」 refer to "page 1" of e.g. a book. Wouldn't this technically mean "one page" and 「1ページ目」 be correct for "page 1"? Is leaving away the 目 when referring to ...
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3 votes
1 answer
291 views

Use of number+ counter as a noun

I didn't know that you can use a number+counter combination as a noun, but it seems from this sentence that you can. 一番上に置いてあった一枚を手に取った She picked up the sheet that had been placed at the top Is ...
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3 votes
1 answer
547 views

Can a particle attach to a counter?

I saw this answer to a recent question which contained the sentence: 私は猫二匹がいます Is it okay to put the particle が after the counter. It seems strange to me. I would have expected: 私(に)は猫が二匹います ...
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2 votes
1 answer
7k views

mittsu vs san - what's the difference and what are these two forms called?

I am trying to learn the numbers and I see there are two different translations for the number 3 (and other numbers). When should I use one and when should I use the other? Is there a name for the ...
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18 votes
3 answers
5k views

Are there native Japanese numbers greater than 10? What use are they?

Most people who've taken a Japanese 101 class know the 10 native Japanese numbers (一つ、二つ・・・十). It's always seemed odd that a system would stop at 10 when so many things in life need larger numbers. ...
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13 votes
2 answers
3k views

第 [dai-] vs 目 [-me] in forming ordinal numbers

As I understand fo now 第 [dai-] and 目 [-me] both turn 5 to fifth. 五匹の犬 [go-hiki no inu] five dogs 五匹目の犬 [go-hiki-me no inu] the fifth dog Here everything is clear. Articles and books say you ...
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18 votes
2 answers
3k views

Is it okay to use つ counting for everything?

Instead of using the proper counter for each thing, is it okay to just use the つ counter? Like in: 彼女は子猫2匹を持っている。 Use つ instead of 匹: 彼女は子猫2つを持っている。 Are there situations when this is ...
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15 votes
1 answer
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Why is 間{かん} used to denote some amounts of time but not others?

I've been thinking about how to express a duration of time and how in the past I have added 間{かん} in situations where I found that I shouldn't have. Take the following sentences as examples. ○: ...
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13 votes
1 answer
8k views

Which counter do you use for counting TV series episodes?

I want to say "I saw 10 episodes", but I can't find the appropriate counter. I may use "つ" counter (十エピソードを見ました), but it's not very classy.
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7 votes
1 answer
2k views

Differences between "何度も or 何度でも" and 何回も?

Things like 何度も and 何回も are somehow common. In what cases would there be differences between the two? Are they the same differences between the plain 回 and 度? Thanks.
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20 votes
4 answers
6k views

Why is the correct counter for rabbits 羽(わ)

Why is the correct counter for rabbits 羽(わ), the counter that is used for birds. I figured it is because they jump, cause fly and jump are the same verb in Japanese, but then frogs are 匹.
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13 votes
1 answer
237 views

How do you express time duration when mixing time units?

When you want to express a passage of time mixing time units like days, hours, and minutes is it best to use for example 間 once at the end to show duration, or should words showing duration be used ...
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5 votes
2 answers
2k views

List of Japanese counter words [closed]

What are the essential Japanese counter words? For example -dai for machines, -mai for papers and stuff like that. What else to expect/know? Thank you
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9 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of 見る in 「1日から2日は見て」

In this JLPT N1 listening practice transcript, a manager at a company is talking to his employee: じゃ、お客様には、私の方からお詫びの電話を入れておくから。番号はこのメモの通りでいいんだよね。君は今すぐ管理部に連絡して、同じ商品の在庫があるか聞いてみて。...
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5 votes
1 answer
358 views

"Line of code" in Japanese

I've been doing a bit of work with rendering 縦書き【たてがき】 in HTML, and was having a running internal monologue in Japanese about how things were progressing when I hit on a missing word: "line" as in "...
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4 votes
1 answer
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More complicated examples of allotting items with ずつ

ずつ can be used when talking about allotting/diving things evenly (e.g. 飴を2つずつあげる), or having equal numbers of different things (e.g. ネギマとレバーを2本ずつ下さい). But what about cases where multiple things are ...
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16 votes
1 answer
2k views

Temperature abbreviations?

A certain dialog in my book has a man describing the symptoms of his cold to the doctor. It reads thus: 医者:熱はありますか。 患者:はい、きのうから。夕べはぞくぞく寒気がしたので、高熱が出るんじゃないかとひやひやしたんですが、今のところ7度8分【なな・ど・はち・ぶ】...
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12 votes
2 answers
348 views

Why are phone calls cylindrical?

何本か重要な電話をかけ、... He made several important phone calls and ... Originally part of this question but separated due to popular? demand. Why is the counter 本 used in reference to phone calls?
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11 votes
2 answers
502 views

How to read the X in 5X4間?

A book about architecture I'm trying to read (it's a bit of a slog what with the technical jargon and such) contained this description of a temple building: 二重、初重5X4間、裳階 (もこし) つき、上重4X3間. So it's two ...
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9 votes
2 answers
301 views

/h/ sound changing in some Japanese counters

I just noticed that the quantifying words that have an initial sound as /h/ such as 本、匹、分 For example: 本 hon /h/ becomes /p/ : 1,6,8,10 /h/ becomes /b/ : 3,?? and ん sound before /b/ becomes /m/ (is ...
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9 votes
3 answers
2k views

名 vs 人 for counting people?

We were asking for seats at a restaurant in Kyoto and were unsure whether to ask for nimei or futari. Which would be more appropriate? What are the distinctions in usage between these two counters?
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7 votes
1 answer
579 views

Does 両目 have a special meaning or is it just a mistake?

Today I found this sentence on my Japanese textbook (みんなの日本語中級I - 本冊 pg. 70) And it didn't make any sense to me. 前から2両目の電車を降りたところで待っています。 I looked for 両目 on 電子辞書 and it says it means both eyes. ...
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  • 409
7 votes
1 answer
313 views

Is repetition of words in questions, such as the 番 in 電話番号は何番ですか common in Japanese?

In this other question, the answers say that 電話{でんわ}番号{ばんごう}は何番ですか is a common way of asking for someones number. I was thrown off by the repitition of 番, but the answers say it's commonly used. So ...
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  • 418
3 votes
1 answer
166 views

Can だ/だった be omitted before conjunctive が?

On the results of measuring the amount of plastic found in a sample of 31 fish: その結果、9匹の体の中から大きさが5mm以下のプラスチックが平均で1.1個見つかりました。 The result (was that) from 9 fish the size was at least 5mm of ...
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8 votes
2 answers
322 views

Confusing use of ずつ

このバスの会社によると、東京では1週間に3日、昼と夜の2回ずつ走る予定で、予約が必要です。 According to the company that runs these buses, they plan to run the Tokyo bus three times a week, twice each in the afternoon and evening. A ...
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7 votes
2 answers
356 views

Are ~つ and ~り the only two counters that can occur with the native Japanese numbers (ひと~, ふた~, etc)?

Please go easy on me if this seems too basic and obvious, I'm a beginner. I always had the impression that there were counters that went with the native Japanese numbers and counters that went with ...
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6 votes
2 answers
861 views

ひき or 頭 for horses?

Initially I'd thought ひき is for small animals and 頭 is for animals that are not small ("big" animals) however EDICT (http://www.csse.monash.edu.au/~jwb/cgi-bin/wwwjdic.cgi?1MUE%E3%81%B2%E3%81%8D) ...
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6 votes
1 answer
180 views

What is a newspaper 段, exactly?

Does this bit contain 2段, for instance? Would 3段抜き refer to a write-up containing 3 such 段?
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  • 625
5 votes
1 answer
184 views

What is the difference between 「女性一人」 and 「一人の女性」?

So far, I've learnt that a quantity (number + counter) can be attached to a noun to quantify it by using の: 一人の女性。One woman. However, I came across a sentence in my textbook where the noun an the ...
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  • 4,608
4 votes
1 answer
416 views

Is みんな being used as a "counter"?

This is from Minna no Nihongo Chapter 15. It's a description of Santa Claus. でも世界の子供はみんな私を知っています。 みんな seems like a counter of sorts (I don't know how else to describe it) for 世界の子供. I always ...
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