How to Speak Japanese

How to count and use numbers and numerals in Japanese

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How to count and use numbers and numerals in Japanese

Here are some questions for you: “今日は何月何日ですか? (What is today’s date?)” “今何時ですか? (What time is it right now?)” “あなたは何歳ですか? (How old are you?)” 
Can you answer any of these questions in Japanese? If not, watch our video and read our article on “数字”, Japanese numbers and numerals and dazzle everyone with your extensive knowledge on Japanese counting!

Table of Contents
[About Japanese “数字”]
[Numbers 0-10]
[Numbers 11-20]
[Numbers 10-100]
[Numbers 100-1000]
[Numbers 1000-10000]

[About Japanese “数字”]

The same number can have several different readings, so there are many mistakes to make – but also lots of ways of getting it right! However, numbers are something you will need to use every day, so here is an overview on how to count in Japanese.

[Numbers 0-10]

The Japanese counting system works partly in an additive way. Hence, if you remember the numbers 1-10, you will be able to count to 99! But keep in mind that some numbers have several readings, which can mostly be used interchangeably:

0 ゼロ、れい
1 いち
2
3 さん
4 よん、し、よ
5
6 ろく
7 なな、しち
8 はち
9 きゅう、く
10 じゅう

Please note that “れい” is more commonly read as “れー”. As for the reading “よ” for “4”, it is most often used when followed by a counter for time or money, e.g. “よ時 (4 o’clock)” or “よ円 (4 Yen)”. 

[Numbers 11-20]

To continue counting after 10, you simply add the numbers on top of each other, first stating the big counter, e.g. “じゅう” and then the smaller counter, e.g. “いち”. That way, how do you read “11”? That would be “じゅういち”! Depending on which numbers you combine, this can again lead to several ways you can read these numbers.

11 じゅういち
12 じゅうに
13 じゅうさん
14 じゅうよん、じゅうし
15 じゅうご
16 じゅうろく
17 じゅうなな、じゅうしち
18 じゅうはち
19 じゅうきゅう、じゅうく
20 にじゅう

[Numbers 10-100]

For the numbers 20, 30, 40, etc., instead of combining them additionally, they are created by multiplication. So instead of saying 10 twice, think 2x 10: “にじゅう”.

10 じゅう
20 にじゅう
30 さんじゅう
40 よんじゅう
50 ごじゅう
60 ろくじゅう
70 ななじゅう
80 はちじゅう
90 きゅうじゅう
100 ひゃく

[Numbers 100-1000]

Counting over one hundred works the same way as counting over ten: Numbers are put together by multiplication. Hence, to say 200, think 2x 100: “にひゃく”. Watch out for the special readings for 300, 600 and 800!

100 ひゃく
200 にひゃく
300 さんびゃく
400 よんひゃく
500 ごひゃく
600 ろっぴゃく
700 ななひゃく
800 はっぴゃく
900 きゅうひゃく
1000 せん

[Numbers 1000-10000]

Counting from one thousand upward is again the same game: You multiply! 2x 1000: “にせん”. Watch out for the special readings for 3000 and 8000!

1000 せん
2000 にせん
3000 さんぜん
4000 よんせん
5000 ごせん
6000 ろくせん
7000 ななせん
8000 はっせん
9000 きゅうせん
10000 いちまん

[Practice]

Now that you know how to count, why not put what you learned to use and practice reading some numbers? Putting all the numbers together is easy: Just work your way down from the biggest counter down to the smallest. For example, 234 reads as: “にひゃくさんじゅうよん” – two (times) hundred three (times) ten four!
Here are a few numbers for you to try and read! Find the solutions below!

324
2160
1015
4874

さんびゃくにじゅうよん
にせんひゃくろくじゅう
せんじゅうご
よんせんはっぴゃくななじゅうよん

Counting in Japanese may seem difficult in the beginning, but it is logical and just a matter of practice. Try saying numbers you see throughout your day in Japanese and you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

単語たんごリスト(Vocabulary list)
数字 Number, numeral
まる Circle
Ten
Hundred
Thousand
一万 Tenthousand
金額 Amount of money
いくら How much
Japanese Yen

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