168 - I already told you a 100 times! - Part II

In the last lesson, we saw this sentence:


Can you read all of those scary kanji?

Here's a kana breakdown:

どうぶつえん いっかい も いった こと ない。

How about the meaning of this sentence?

Well, that would be...

どうぶつえん いっかい も いった こと ない。
I've never been to the zoo.
Literally: "zoo + one time + も + have not gone."

Last lesson, we were only looking at how も combines with ~回(~かい // [the counter for] times)to add emphasis.

But we can use も with other number-related words too.

I know what some of you are thinking:

Numbers? You don't mean... JAPANESE COUNTERS?!

Yeah, I'm talking about Japanese counters.

I'm sorry.

If you look at this Wikipedia article or this article on Tofugu, you'll see that there are about a million different ways to count things in Japanese.

I was thinking that I should put a big list-like article on my site, too.

But then I remembered how boring giant lists are.

Also, they scare me.

To-do list? Hmm... maybe...
Grocery list? Sure...
Gigantic Japanese counters list? Eww...

Instead, let's look at:

Some interesting facts about Japanese counters:
1) You'll never memorize them all.
2) Even if you do, you'll still use the wrong ones all the time.
3) Japanese people do not care if you use the wrong counters.
4) Japanese people themselves are inconsistent with the use of counters. For example, things that are not small often use ~個( // the counter for small things), not everyone consistently uses ~膳(ぜん // the counter for chopsticks) when counting chopsticks, etc.

That said, you do need to learn some counters.

In this lesson, we have a few highly useful ones.

General Counters for Things:
一つ(ひとつ // 1
二つ(ふたつ // 2
三つ(みっつ // 3
四つ(よっつ // 4
五つ(いつつ // 5
六つ(むっつ // 6
七つ(ななつ // 7
八つ(やっつ // 8
九つ(ここのつ // 9
*Note: You only need to learn up to "nine (things)" for this one.

Counters for People:
一人(ひとり // 1
二人(ふたり // 2
三人(さんにん // 3)
四人(よにん // 4
五人(ごにん // 5
六人(ろくにん // 6
七人(ななにん・しちにん // 7
八人(はちにん // 8
九人(きゅうにん // 9
十人(じゅうにん // 10

Counters for Flat Objects (e.g. Sheets of Paper):
一枚(いちまい // 1
二枚(にまい // 2
三枚(さんまい // 3
四枚(よんまい // 4
五枚(ごまい // 5
六枚(くまい // 6
七枚(ななまい // 7
八枚(はちまい // 8
九枚(きゅうまい // 9
十枚(じゅうまい // 10

Counters for (Little) Things:
一個(いっこ // 1
二個(にこ // 2
三個(さんこ // 3
四個(よんこ // 4
五個(ごこ // 5
六個(ろっこ // 6
七個(ななこ // 7
八個(はちこ・はっこ // 8
九個(きゅうこ // 9
十個(じゅっこ // 10

Counter for Books (because I love books):
一冊(いっさつ // 1
二冊(にさつ // 2
三冊(さんさつ // 3
四冊(よんさつ // 4
五冊(ごさつ // 5
六冊(ろくさつ // 6
七冊(ななさつ // 7
八冊(はちさつ・はっさつ // 8
九冊(きゅうさつ // 9
十冊(じゅっさつ // 10

Yes, there are other counters you need to learn.
No, we don't need to worry about them today. ^_^

Now here is a pitifully short list of examples using some of those words above (and the grammar we looked at in the previous lesson)...

ふたつ も たべれない よ。
I can't eat two of these!
Literally: "two (things) + も + cannot eat + よ."

なんこ も かって いい よ。
You can buy several of them.
Literally: "some things [= what + counter] + も + is OK to buy + よ."

ほしい ほん じゅっさつ も ある。
There are 10 different books that I want!
Literally: "wanted + books + 10 (books) + も + there are."

けっきょく ひとり も こなかった。
In the end, not a single person came.
Literally: "after all + one person + も + did not come."

きらいな たべもの ひとつ も ない。
There is not a single food that I don't like.
Literally: "hated/disliked + food + one (thing) + も + there is not."

ぜんぶ せんたく しちゃって ティーシャツ が いちまい も ない。
I put everything in the laundry, and now I don't have a single shirt.
Literally: "all + laundry/washing + did + T-shirts + が + one (flat object) + も + there is not."

Now for the bonus round!

The following counter is not in our above list, and it's not one that you hear that often, either:

~滴(~てき // the counter for drops [e.g. of water]

おさけ いってき も のめない んだ。
I can't drink a single drop of alcohol.
Literally: "alcohol + one drop + も + cannot drink + んだ."

So much to learn. So little time.

If it makes you feel better, I'm still flabbergasted by the fact that I can read all of the sentences in this lesson.

Complete and Continue