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'.

Filter by
Sorted by
Tagged with
40
votes
3answers
5k views

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{...
31
votes
4answers
5k 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 ...
21
votes
4answers
4k 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.
20
votes
2answers
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 ...
19
votes
1answer
9k views

Can you say “half hour” or must you say “30 minutes”?

I know that to say an hour and a half you can say 一時間半, but is it possible to express simply half an hour even though the counter comes before 半? Or would you just have to say 三十分? If both ways are ...
17
votes
1answer
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】...
16
votes
3answers
4k 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. ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

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. ○: ...
15
votes
2answers
700 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 ...
15
votes
1answer
2k views

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 ...
14
votes
4answers
5k views

Counter for chopsticks

Just curious about this one. I'm never sure what to say when I ask for chopsticks in Japanese. I know that "by-the-book", you can count them with ~そろい (揃い) or ~ぜん (膳). So I always say 「お箸を 一揃い(...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

「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 「...
14
votes
2answers
311 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?
13
votes
2answers
471 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
1k views

What is the counter for languages

I've looked this up in a few different dictionaries and the only word I got was 「か国語」written in a few different ways. but all of them contain 「国語」which I have come to understand means national ...
13
votes
1answer
598 views

Looking for a kanji/symbol used for counting noodles

Just to add some context: I was with a Japanese friend at a うどん and そば restaurant in 浅草 where they had a small sign by the counter to buy their fresh noodles. However, the size of the portion was not ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

The first: 第一 vs 一番 vs 第一番

What are differences among 第一, 一番 and 第一番, all of which seem to mean "the first" in English? Are any of them more suitable for some specific scenarios than the others (e.g. 安全第一 but 世界で一番)?
13
votes
1answer
129 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
542 views

What counter words are used by animals for humans?

In Happy Feet 2, I noticed that the penguins used the hitori, futari, ... counter words for themselves, rather than 羽. In fiction involving talking animals where the humans are regarded as somewhat "...
12
votes
1answer
758 views

Can the 歳 counter be used for architecture, furniture etc to tell its age?

While I understand that the 歳 counter is used to indicate ages of people and animals, I was wondering if it could be used to also talk about ages of inanimate things like architecture or furniture. ...
12
votes
1answer
5k 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.
12
votes
1answer
2k views

Why is 「人口」 used to denote population?

I'm just curious at the appearance of 「口」 that makes this word mean "population". Why should it be 「口」 as opposed to any other body part or anything else? Is there a definitive reason or story ...
12
votes
2answers
744 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
2k views

How to read 24-hour clock format

There are a lot of topics on forums in what case Japanese people use 24-hour clock format. But I have never seen how it should be pronounced. It's not hard to say something like 8:05. This is common ...
11
votes
4answers
1k views

Counters In Japanese

I'm a super beginner in Japanese, so excuse me if this question is really simple. Or stupid. As an exercise, sometimes I count up the things on nearby desks or tables and try to list them in Japanese,...
11
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
666 views

Are Japanese counter words still being created?

That is, are counters (助数詞) an open class of words? If yes: Is there an example of a counter that was added recently (say, post-Taishō) and is now in current use by a community of speakers (i.e. not ...
10
votes
1answer
878 views

How many things? AとBがふたつ

「その上{うえ}には熱帯魚{ねったいぎょ}の水槽{すいそう}と何{なに}かのトロフィーがふたつのっている。」 This is a quote from "The wind-up bird and Tuesday's Women." How many fish tanks are there? How many trophies?
10
votes
1answer
4k views

Why biiru hitotsu rather than ippai?

While having Ghengis Khan with some dou-min, one of them asked for "biiru hitotsu". While I could understand the biiru, I was surprised that ippai wasn't used. I understand that (number)-tsu is valid ...
10
votes
2answers
200 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

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 ...
10
votes
2answers
330 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 ...
9
votes
2answers
193 views

Doesn't ~ニン(人)as a suffix imply that it is a counter of people

I was looking to some examples of the use of 人 and I found this one in Jisho.org http://jisho.org/search/人 200人{にん}の人{ひと}が昨年コレラで死んだ。 Two hundred people died of cholera last year. With furigana ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Gregorian calendar year to Japanese era name, and vice versa [closed]

Just for fun, I'm curious about how native speakers do mental translation from Gregorian calendar year (e.g 2011) to Japanese era name 年号 (e.g. 平成23年), and vice versa. Do you have special and ...
9
votes
2answers
395 views

Counter followed by 隣

Referring to items at a mask selling stall: じいさんはうさぎの二個隣にあるドラえもんを指さした。 The man pointed at the ドラえもん figure ??? next to the rabbit I'm confused about what 二個隣 means. Does it mean that the ドラえもん ...
9
votes
1answer
1k views

Is there a general counter word for objects that you can fallback on if you're not sure which one to use?

I guess we could use the native Japanese numbers, 一つ, 二つ, 三つ...but we'd run into a problem at or after ten (not sure how とお works — same for はたち). Is there a general counter word that we can fallback ...
9
votes
2answers
249 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
228 views

Did つ (助数詞) actually mean の?

There are quite a few examples were tsu actually means no. まつ毛・睫毛・睫 matsuge actually comes from 目の毛 me no ke (ma is another pronunciation for 目 me) 沖つ宮 okitsumiya(aslo written 沖津宮, but, as Meikyou ...
8
votes
2answers
894 views

Why is another photo referred to as もう一丁?

一丁 is a cut of tofu or konyaku, so why is it also used for photos? I always imagined it as a Polaroid, flat, like もう一枚 but can't find out the original reason もう一丁 was used for it.
8
votes
2answers
361 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 ...
8
votes
3answers
654 views

How do you refer to items in a list?

Given a list of things... dog cat fish How would you say... the second item in the list: 2目番? all three of them: 全部三つ? two of them (not regarding the position in the list): 2匹 or 2目? Is this ...
8
votes
1answer
757 views

Counter for islands?

I have found the following sentence in my practising book (only 日本 is written in kanji because it's in one of the first lessons): 日本は しまが 6852 とう あります。 I am guessing that とう is the counter for ...
8
votes
2answers
5k views

Is B2F, B1F, 1F, 2F, … wasei-eigo?

While visiting Tokyo, I noticed that most levels were indicated by B2F, B1F, 1F, 2F, ... . This doesn't look like the Romaji for -kai or -gai counter-words, which I assume would be chika ni-kai, ...
8
votes
1answer
163 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?
8
votes
2answers
428 views

Can counter words also be nouns?

According to people I've asked, and this page, if I pay 20 Australian dollars for my meal, it seems I say ni ju doru (20-ドル), and that ni ju-en doru (20-えん-ドル) would be ungrammatical - "dollar" acts ...
7
votes
2answers
641 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) ...
7
votes
2answers
570 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}. ...
7
votes
1answer
194 views

Would the same counter be used to order a slice of pizza and a whole one?

When I order a pizza, would I use ichimai 一枚 to order a slice or the whole thing? Thank you.
7
votes
1answer
388 views

Reading of 組 as a Counter Word With Numbers

I'm confused about how to pronounce a word such as 一組. Are Japanese or Chinese numbers used when using 組 as a counter, and if the former how does it change phonetically? For example, jisho.org lists ...
7
votes
1answer
776 views

Difference between tatami mat counters 帖 and 畳

What is the difference between tatami mat counters 帖 and 畳 (both pronounced じょう)?