Native Japanese numbers

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This entry makes use of Japanese characters and will require Japanese language support to be installed on your computer in order to avoid the characters being replaced by question marks, or blanked out.

Native Japanese numbers form the second "leg" of the Japanese numerical system. Whereas the latter are based on Chinese characters and forms part of the kanji set, the former are indigenous to Japan, although their spelling makes use of kanji and hiragana.

These native Japanese numbers are limited to one through ten, as follows:

Arabic Number Japanese Pronunciation
1 一つ hitotsu
2 二つ futatsu
3 三つ mittsu
4 四つ yottsu
5 五つ itsutsu
6 六つ muttsu
7 七つ nanatsu
8 八つ yattsu
9 九つ kokonotsu
10 too

These numbers are used as counters for things which are not clearly categorized, or which have no defined shape, such as stones, boxes, stars, ideas, problems, etc.

However, their usage differs from the normal counters, which combine a number with a specific counter term for the item being counted. Native numbers are used on their own when counting a relevant object.

For example, (the counter is underlined):

  • Counter for an object

Japanese: 犬が二匹います
Romaji: Inu ga ni-hiki imasu (ni = two; hiki = the counter for small animals)
English: There are two dogs (lit: dog two are)

  • Using a native Japanese number

Romaji: Mondai ga hitotsu arimasu
English: There is one problem (lit: problem one there exists)

See also