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Video:Learn Japanese: Types of Counter Words

with Michael Metcalf

Learn counter words in Japanese with the proper phrases and Kanji, the Japanese written character. You will be able to count various items with their proper counter word in Japanese after this tutorial.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn Japanese: Types of Counter Words

Hi, My name is Michael Metcalf, I am a student of Japanese at the University of Missouri in Columbia for About.com. In this video I am going to teach you some basic things about how the Japanese count various items and objects.

Numbers Needs the Proper Japanese Counter Word

In English, when we count something we usually just say one, two, three, or four cups of coffee for example. But in Japanese, not only do they use a number to quantify an item or object, but they also use a special counter word that attaches to the number to relate to a specific item or object. It's very possible in Japanese for two people to be talking about a certain number of items without referring to the actual item they are talking about. What I have hear on the board are some pronunciations of some common counter words in Japanese. Next to the pronunciations I will write the kanji in the proper stroke order. The reason I am writing the kanji is to show how the counter word appears in normal written Japanese.

Pronunciation for Japanese Counter Words May Vary

First we'll write "hon". "Hon" is used to count long, cylindrical objects, like bottles for example. For example we'll have one bottle, "ippon", two bottle being "nihon", and three bottle being "sanbon". Did you notice how the sound morphed depending on the number of bottles there were?Next is "mai", this is for thin flat objects, like pieces of paper. So one piece of paper is "ichimai", two is "nimai" and three is "sanmai".The third one we have here is for cars are large pieces of equipment. Which is "dai". So if we have three cars we would say "sandai", one car "Ichidai" or two cars "nidai".And then lastly we have "tsu". "Tsu" is kind of like a catch all counter. And the number word morphed depending on what it is you are talking about. So it can get a little harry especially when counting from one to ten. For example if you have one of something it would be "hitotsu", two of something "futatsu", three of something "mitsu".

Thank you for watching and if you would like to learn more specifics about different kinds of counter words, be sure to check us out on the web at About.com.
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