Native Japanese Numbers

Japanese

Native Japanese numbers are those of Japanese origin, and they go up only to 10. These are different from the numbers in how to count to ten in Japanese, which were imported from the Chinese number system hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Those share the same characters in both languages, but are pronounced differently.

To use these properly in Japanese, you have to use counters, special words that are used only with numbers. (While this subject is too complicated for this post, a counter is kind of like the word “piece” in the sentence “I ate one piece of pie.” But Japanese has a very long list of counters; which one you use depends on the type, shape or size of object you want to count.) The native Japanese numbers do not need counter words.

1     一つ     hitotsu       ひとつ
2     二つ     futatsu       ふたつ
3     三つ     mittsu        みっつ
4     四つ     yottsu        よっつ
5     五つ     itsutsu        いつつ
6     六つ     muttsu       むっつ
7     七つ     nanatsu      ななつ
8     八つ     yattsu         やっつ
9     九つ     kokonotsu   ここのつ
10   十        tō               とお       (The number ten does not end in “tsu” as the other nine do.)

How to Count to Ten in Japanese ~ (Audio)

Japanese

Here’s how to count to ten in Japanese:

1. one — ichi 一
2. two — ni 二
3. three — san 三
4. four — shi; yon 四
5. five — go 五
6. six — roku 六
7. seven — shichi; nana 七
8. eight — hachi 八
9. nine — kyu; ku 九
10. ten — juu 十

Bonus number: zero — rei 零

Here’s another video of the Japanese numbers one to ten. It’s not by a native speaker, but she has some good mnemonics to help you learn them.

This part was easy. But counting and numbers in Japanese is anything but. If you want to learn more — and make your head explode! — here’s a nice explanation of the Japanese number system at LearnJapanese.