Counting Numbers in Japanese

Posted by on November 22, 2014 – Japanese Study
Counting Japanese Numbers

Numbers from 1 to 10,000

Above 100,000

Over 100,000,000

 

Japanese Numbers are fairly simple. It advances on a base ten system, so you’ll be able to use the numbers by learning 1 to 10 and then learning expressions for the digits such as 10, 100 and 1,000. Let’s first learn the digits up to 10,000.

Numbers from 1 to 10,000

  • 1 ichi 「いち」
  • 2 ni 「に」
  • 3 san(sam) 「さん」
  • 4 yon / shi 「よん/し」
  • 5 go 「ご」
  • 6 roku 「ろく」
  • 7 nana / shichi 「なな/しち」
  • 8 hachi 「はち」
  • 9 kyuu / ku 「きゅう/く」
  • 10 juu 「じゅう」
  • 100 hyaku (3-byaku/6, 8-ppyaku) 「ひゃく(3びゃく/6,8っぴゃく)」
  • 1,000 sen (3-zen, 8-ssen ) 「せん(3ぜん/8っせん)」
  • 10,000 man 「まん」 「万」

For example, 28 looks like this: ni – juu – hachi 「に じゅう はち」. For 10 to 100, leave out 1 (ichi) and say the numbers as follows:

  • 12 juu-ni (NOT ichi-juu ni) 「じゅう に」
  • 157 hyaku go-juu nana (NOT ichi-hyaku go-juu-nana) 「ひゃく ごじゅう なな」
  • 1861 sen ha-ppyaku roku-juu ichi (NOT ichi sen ha-ppyaku roku-juu ichi) 「せん はっぴゃく ろくじゅう いち」

As another example, 369 looks like this: sam-byaku roku-juu kyuu 「さんびゃく ろくじゅう きゅう」while 18,257 would be: ichi-man ha-ssen ni-hyaku go-juu nana 「いちまん はっせん にひゃく ごじゅう なな」.

Like this, all you have to do is piece together the elements and speak them. In parentheses, you will read the numbers with changes in pronunciation for euphonic reasons.

 

Above 100,000

Now, let’s take a look at large numbers over 100,000. Whereas English uses 1,000 as one unit and expresses 10,000 as 10 x 1,000 (ten-thousand), Japanese uses 「万」(10,000) as one unit and expresses 100,000 as 10 x 10,000 (juu-man 「10万」). Let’s just remember 4 zero is 「万」(man): 320,000 is san-juu-ni man. 「さんじゅう に まん」. They continue as follows:

  • 10,000 ichi-man 「1万」
  • 100,000 juu-man 「10万」
  • 1,000,000 hyaku-man (one million) 「100万」
  • 10,000,000 iseen-man 「1000万」

In English the next unit corresponding to 1,000 x 1,000 is 1,000,000 (million). In Japanese the next unit corresponding to 10,000 x 10,000 is 100,000,000 (ichi-oku 「1億」/ hundred million).

 

Over 100,000,000

  • 100,000,000 ichi-oku 「1億」
  • 1,000,000,000 juu-oku ( one-billion) 「10億」
  • 10,000,000,000 hyaku-oku 「100億」
    *You can remember 8 zero is 「億」(oku)

The unit after oku is choo 「兆」: 100,000,000,000 i-cchoo 「1兆」. Yes, 12 zero are fairly hard to count! 10 to the 16th power. This is “tera” in computer language.

All in all, Japanese has fairly simple numbers. However, expressing dates in Japanese can be much more complicated and we will cover this in another article. If you want to simply learn how to use numbers in Japanese in Daily situation, please join us in our Japanese Lessons ; )

 

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