Today’s 日本語

ABC! easy as 123! NOPE!

Japanese has a very specific way of counting and everything from paper to people to trees have their own way of being counted.

Here are a few,

People take the suffix ~ nin (人)

一人 hitori  二人 futari  三人 san nin  四人 yo-nin  五人 go-nin

animals and insects are ~hiki (匹)

一匹 ippiki  二匹 nihiki 三匹 sanbiki  四匹 yonhiki  五匹 gohiki

Birds and rabbits* use ~wa (一羽)

一羽 ichiwa 二羽 niwa 三羽 sanwa  四羽 yonwa 五羽 go wa

bound objects like books, magazines and gimps take ~ satsu (冊)

一冊 issastu 二冊 nisatsu 三冊 sansatsu 四冊 yonsatsu 五冊 gosatsu

flat objects such as paper, tickets, bills and empty plates use ~mai (枚)

一枚 ichimai 二枚  nimai  三枚 sanmai 四枚 yonmai 五枚 gomai

Plates of food take ~sara (皿)

一皿 hitosara  二皿 futasara 三皿 sansara 四皿 yonsara 五皿 gosara

electronic devices like phones, rice cookers and vehicles take ~dai (台)

一台  ichidai  二台  nidai 三台  sandai 四台  yondai 五台  godai

long things are hon (本) (the kanji means origin………….rude)

一本 ippon  二本  nihon 三本 sanbon  四本 yohon 五本 gohon

 

* the reason that rabbits take the bird counter instead of the animal one is that back back in time religious laws banned eating meat from land animals, but fish and birds were OK. Rabbits, with their long ears could be “mistaken for birds”

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