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Video:Learn Japanese: Special Numbers for Counting

with Michael Metcalf

In Japanese, certain words have special counting rules for proper pronunciation. Learn how to use the Japanese counter words for hours, buildings, and animals correctly and further your Japanese practice.See Transcript

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Transcript:Learn Japanese: Special Numbers for Counting

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 go over the basics of special numbers used for counting in Japanese.

Some Object Have Special Rules for Counting in Japanese

What I'll do, is I will guide you through the pronunciations of special counter words and then I will write their prospective Kanji up there so you can see what these counter words look like in actual written Japanese.

Learn to Count Hours, Buildings and Animals in Japanese


Now, special numbers for counting, this basically means that in Japanese when you count certain objects they don't just say one, two, three, four... but they say the number plus a special counter word that relates to whatever object it is that they are quantifying. So on the board I have "ji", "ken", and "hiki".

For "ji", we are going to be talking mostly about hours. Normally I could just say "ichiji" to say one o'clock for example, and then "niji" for two o'clock. But there are certain exceptions for example four o'clock. Four in Japanese is "yon", but when I'm talking about ji, it becomes "yoji", the same thing for nine o'clock, if I'm talking about nine, I don't say "kyuuji", I say "kuji".

Next is "ken", which is the counter for houses or buildings. The big morphing number for "ken", is one. One in Japanese is "ichi", but you don't say "ichiken" you say, "ikken".

Lastly here, I have the counter word for animals, "hiki". Again, a big morphing number for hiki is one and also three and six. So instead of "ichihiki" it's "ippiki", for example, three dogs it's not: "sanhiki", it's "sanbiki". And for six cats, I don't say: "rokuhiki" I say, "roppiki".

Thank you for watching and if you'd like to learn more special numbers for counting, check us out on the web, at About.com.
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