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Video:Learn Japanese: How to Count Thin and Flat Objects

with Michael Metcalf

Counting thin or flat objects in Japanese is different from counting other numbers or items. Here's a quick guide to counting thing or flat objects in Japanese.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn Japanese: How to Count Thin and Flat Objects

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 will discuss how to count thin and flat objects in Japanese.

Add Counter-Word When Counting in Japanese

In Japanese, whenever you count something, you say the number of whatever it is you are counting and then you attach a special counter-word that relates specifically to whatever object it is that you are quantifying. For thin and flat objects, that special counter-word is "mai", in Japanese. Now, I will draw the kanji. A kanji is basically a pictograph that represents a meaning, but not necessarily a pronunciation, and it is used very often in written Japanese.

Counting to Ten in Japanese

For example, let's say we wanted to talk about two sheets of paper. If I'm seeing this in written Japanese, I would be seeing it like this: the kanji for "two", which is "ni", right next to "mai" – "nimai" – meaning "two thin, flat objects". In the context of what I would be referring to, which is paper, it would be understood what I was talking about. "Mai" is not bound to just paper; it could be a slice of bread, or a leaf, but usually just any thin flat object. So, let's try counting, from one to ten, some thin flat objects. For one piece of paper, "ichimai"; two pieces, "nimai"; three, "sanmai"; four, "yonmai"; five, "gomai"; six, "rokumai"; seven, "nanamai"; eight, "hachimai"; nine, "kyuumai"; and ten, "juumai".

Thank you for watching, and if you would like to know more about counting in Japanese, look us up on the web at About.com.
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