If I say "I drank one sake," you don't know whether I drank one glass or one bottle, although my brain function would differ dramatically depending on the answer.
And if I eat two dozen eggs instead of two eggs every day, I won't live as long as I should. Words like glasses, bottles, and dozens express an amount or quantity. Other unit words include pieces, sheets, and pairs (as in a piece of cake, a sheet of paper, and a pair of shoes).|
Unless you're reciting numbers or doing arithmetic, you need to place a counter right after a number. You use counters to specify the time and date, talk about your age, chat about your test score, or count days, cars, students, money, fish, and a ton of other things.
The counter you use depends on the shape, size, and type of the item. If you count mechanical items such as cars, for example, you need the counter -dai (dah-ee). Simply add the counter after the number of cars - ichi-dai, ni-dai, san-dai, and so on. The tricky part is that an item can have more than one counter. When you're at the fish market trying to buy mackerel, for example, you can use either -hiki or -hon.
Counters and Their Uses
|-dai (dah-ee)||mechanical items||cars, typewriters, refrigerators|
|-hiki (hee-kee)||animals||dogs, frogs, fish, mosquitoes|
|-hon (hohn)||cylindrical items||pens, pencils, bananas, sticks, umbrellas|
|-mai (mah-ee)||flat items||bed sheets, paper, stamps|
|-nin (neen)||people||students, children, women|
|-tsu (tsoo)||various inanimate items/items that don't have a specific counter||furniture, apples, bags, traffic lights|
Counting the months
The Japanese word for moon is tsuki (tsoo-kee), which also means "month." Japanese doesn't have a separate word for each month - it uses a number paired with the counter -gatsu (gah-tsoo). For example, January is ichi-gatsu (eeh-chee-gah-tsoo).
Below table gives you the numbers from 1 to 10 and shows you how to use various counters.
Counting with Counters
|Number||-dai Mechanical Items||-hiki Animals||-hon Cylindrical Items||-mai Flat Items||-nin People||-tsu Various Inanimate Items|
Using a number to name a month may seem strange, but English uses numbers to express months, too - April 20 is 4/20, for example. Just add the counter -gatsu after the number you normally use to refer to a month - but in Japanese, of course.
Table below lists the 12 tsuki.
To express a number of months, use the counter -kagetsu (kah-geh-tsoo) or -kagetsukan (kah-geh-tsoo-kahn). In conversation, -kagetsu is more common, but it's good to know both.
The Numbers of Months table shows how kagetsu is pronounced when combined with numbers. Watch out for irregular sound changes!
Numbers of Months
Counting the days In this section, I show you how to say "the first," "the second," and so on for dates and how to specify items in a sequence, like "the third slice of pizza." To find out how to say these words in reference to items like buildings, streets, and intersections.
The way dates are pronounced in Japanese is full of irregularities.
What's Today's Date?
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