How to count people and general objects.Need help?
Toilet, Restroom, Bathroom
One person, By oneself
Two people, Two persons
Counting items in Japanese is a large topic. Japanese requires that you use specific counting words depending on the item or living creature that you are counting. For example, 匹 is used to count small animals and 本 is used for long and thin objects. So if you wanted to say "There are two dogs" in Japanese you could say "犬が二匹います". We aren't going to cover all of the different ways to count items here but will introduce two basic counting words for people and objects.
The counter for people is 人. The table below shows how to count between 1 and 10 people:
|Number of people||Japanese||Reading|
Notice the reading for 一人 and 二人 have special readings which are different from the normal pattern of the others, and 四人 is read as よにん instead of しにん or よんにん.
The counter for general objects is つ. When you are not sure what counter to use, you can count nearly any kind of non-living object with this counter. The readings for this counter are a little bit tricky.
There is another counter for general objects: 個. This will be introduced later on along with an explanation of the differences between the two.
Counters in a sentence
The following shows some examples of how to add a number of objects in います/あります sentences.
- There are four boys.
- There are three toilets.
- I have two siblings.
Notice the words to describe the number/amount come after the subject, which is the opposite to English. Native English speakers tend to say 四人の男の子がいます or 三つトイレがあります from the English sentence ordering “four boys or “three toilets”. While it is grammatically correct, it is more natural to say it like the above examples.