Best Way To Learn Japanese Numbers

Table of Contents

Introduction

No matter where you travel, knowing numbers is necessary for daily living. When discussing numbers, our fingers are not always the best tool. Yet mastering Japanese numerals has so many other advantages because numbers are more than simply numbers in Japan.

Why Learn Japanese Numbers? 

There is no doubting the beauty and complexity of the Japanese language. Learning Japanese would typically take a native English speaker over 2200 hours of study time to become fluent. As a result, mastering Japanese may unquestionably be listed among a person’s life’s greatest accomplishments. Given that it includes two syllabaries, thousands of characters, and hundreds of counters, learning Japanese may seem difficult. Yet that doesn’t imply that learning Japanese is essentially difficult. The Japanese numerals, however, are simple to understand.

I kid you not! The Japanese numerals are very simple to learn if you grasp the fundamentals, despite how challenging they appear right now. Although counting is simple in Japanese, there are several ways to count… even to just 10. Moreover, the feared “counters” might make counting items perplexing. With a few exceptions, Japanese numerals after 1 to 10 follow a logical pattern.

We’ll demonstrate how to learn Japanese numbers 1 to 100, how to pronounce Japanese numbers, the best way to learn Japanese numbers, and how to quickly memorise Japanese numbers in this article.

How does the Japanese Number System work? 

Except for the digits 1 through 10, we cannot simply count items using numerals in the Japanese number system. This is due to the lack of a common singular/plural structure in the Japanese language. The Japanese digits must be combined with what is referred to as counters when counting beyond 10. A “counter” is a term that indicates the type of thing you are counting and grouping related objects in this context. The most popular counters among the several categories are “tsu,” “hon,” “ko,” “nin,” “dai,” and “hiki.” 

The Japanese number system is based on two different Japanese number pronunciations (or readings): the Sino-Japanese readings, or “On reading,” which are based on Chinese numbers, and the Native Japanese readings, or “Kun reading,” which are based on the Japanese yamato kotoba (native words). The Native Japanese numerals all finish in つ (tsu), except for 10, ending in とう (tou). This makes it easy to determine which sort of Japanese number is written.

You are now prepared to learn to count to ten in Japanese, after all!

Japanese Numbers Chart and its Pronunciation

The table will enable you to learn Japanese numbers 1 to 20, and after that, 1-100 can be quickly learnt, as explained below. 

The numbers 4, 7, and 9 all have two potential interpretations. When counting in Japanese, these two names are essentially equivalent. Native speakers are familiar with both variants. Because of superstition around the sounds shi, shichi, and ku (which can imply “death,” “site of death,” and “agony”), the Japanese invented the preferable replacements yon, nana, and kyu. In reality, though, the various readings are often only selected according to the context—telling time as opposed to counting items, for instance.

The best way to learn Japanese numbers is to remember that after the number 10, only those favoured pronunciations—yon, nana, and kyu—are used for the numbers 4, 7, and. Hence, instead of saying shi juu for double-digit numerals ending in 0, like 40, we often say _yonjuu. The table above will help you learn Japanese numbers 1 to 100. Even if you are unfamiliar with the Japanese writing system, you can still pronounce each number because there is also romaji writing to guide you. 

How to Use the Japanese Number System? 

As stated before, there are two different Japanese readings- Native Japanese and readings in Sino-Japanese. Japanese speakers can interpret Chinese or kanji characters as either “kun-yomi” or “on-yomi.” The Native Japanese reading, known as “Kun-yomi,” was first used in Japan. The Sino-Japanese reading, known as “On-yomi,” was created from the Chinese language. “On-yomi” reading is applied when two or more kanjis are joined to form a single word. The “kun-yomi” reading is employed when a kanji character is used by itself in its original form.

Example: 木 (tree, wood)

kun-yomi: Ki, Ko

on-yomi: Moku, Boku

The Native Japanese reading can only be used to count from 1 to 10. To count beyond 10, Sino-Japanese reading should be used.

Steps to Learn and Memorize Japanese Numbers

The trick is to memorize Japanese numbers till 10. After you can count to ten, counting to one hundred is merely a game of compounding and addition. To help you comprehend how to count to 100 in Japanese, consider the following examples:

The number 11 is written as 十一(juuichi), or 10 (juu) + 1 (ichi); similarly, the number 12 is written as 十二(juuni), or 10 (juu) + 2. (ni).

The principle is unaffected by changing the prefix. All you have to do is add the following number after counting the tens (two tens, three tens, four tens, and so on):

If 20 is equal to 二十(nijuu), or 2 (ni) 10s (juu), then 二十一(nijuuichi), or 2 (ni) 10s (juu) + 1 (ichi), is 21.

If 70 is either 七十(nanajuu) or 7 (nana) 10s (juu), then 76 is 七十六 (nanajuuroku) or 7 (nana) 10s (juu) + 6 (roku)

Then 100 introduces a new word: 百(hyaku).

We must know that counters and numbers are used together. Two different patterns may be seen when employing them in a sentence. The first one has the word arriving at the conclusion of the sentence, with the phrase beginning with “numerical + counter” and ending with the function “の” (no). Below is an illustration:

3 relatives: San-nin (3 individuals/people) no (of) shinseki (relatives)

In the second pattern, the noun appears first in the sentence, followed by the particle “を” (wo), the “numeral + counter,” and finally, the verb. 

1 pencil: Enpitsu (pencil) wo (of) ippon (1)

The number is highlighted in the first pattern, while the word is highlighted in the second.

A word about Japanese numerals: Although counting Japanese numbers is simple, the readings can occasionally vary when they are used for things like dates and ages. For instance, 20 is referred to as はたち(hatachi) when a person reaches that age since it is the age at which one is regarded as an adult. The 20th day of the month, however, is known as はつか (hatsuka).

How long does it take to learn Japanese Numbers? 

Learning Japanese would typically take a native English speaker over 2200 hours of study time to become fluent. As a result, mastering Japanese may unquestionably be listed among a person’s life’s greatest accomplishments. You may learn Japanese numbers organically with useful themes and real Japanese conversations recorded by native Japanese people on YouTube, the fastest method to speak languages. Simple everyday learning of 5 mins per day also goes a long way. You’ll become hooked since it’s so much fun, and in no time, you’ll be speaking Japanese like a native! 

Tips for learning the Japanese Numbers Fast

  • The trick is to memorize numbers till 10. After you can count to ten, counting to one hundred is merely a game of compounding and addition. 
  • Another tip for remembering the Japanese numbers is to take note that they finish in つ (tsu) apart from 10, which ends in とう (tou).
  • For someone who has only recently begun learning Japanese words and numbers, the application of counters may seem overly complicated. The fastest technique to learn Japanese counting is to first become fluent in the numbers from 1 to 100 without attempting to recall the counters simultaneously.
  • By identifying if the kanji is followed by つ or not (except in the case of 10)., you can always understand which counting system is being utilised. 
  • The best way to learn Japanese numbers is to remember that after the number 10, only those favoured pronunciations—yon, nana, and kyu—are used for the numbers 4, 7, and. Hence, instead of saying shi juu for double-digit numerals ending in 0, like 40, we often say _yonjuu.
  • The most typical Japanese term for zero is “ゼロ”, pronounced “zero.” As “zero” is a borrowed word from English, we write it using Katakana letters.
  • The various readings are often only selected according to the context—telling time as opposed to counting items, for instance.
  • It is crucial to get to know the “Hiragana” alphabet and the fundamental Japanese number pronunciations while you practise your Japanese on your own or with a coach. Start by studying the seven basic counters: 時 (“ji”), 匹 (“hiki”), 人 (“nin”),つ (“tsu”),個 (“ko”), 本 (“hon”),  and 台 (“dai”).  while learning new counters.
  • The terms “hon” and “ko” are both common counters that apply to a wide range of goods. 
  • Learn the global “tsu” counting system, which comes in handy for all of your daily necessities like ordering food or coffee or buying your supplies.

FAQs

Q. What are some superstitions related to Japanese numbers?

A. As already mentioned that the numbers 4 and 9 are thought to be bad. Because they sound the same as “death” and “suffering,” you’ll notice across Japan that those digits are absent. A building’s fourth floor or room number 49 could not exist.

Q. What numbers are considered lucky in Japan?

A. The number seven is considered incredibly lucky. It appears frequently, from national celebrations to the celebration of life seven days after birth.

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