Japanese Lesson 21 – Way of counting things (2)

I introduced some unit words for counting concrete objects in the preceding page.
There are many other unit words not for concrete objects.

Unit words for the number of repeat time and order


The unit words for expressing the number of repeat time are “kai” or “do”.
Both words are used frequently.
The pronunciation of some numbers with “kai” are changed.

“Ban” is a unit for expressing a position in an order or a ranking.
In competition, race, various ranking, etc., the number with “ban” is used as a position in the ranking.

Ordinal number

In English, there are the ordinal word such as “first”, “second”, “third”, “fourth” in contrast with “one”, “two”, “three”, “four”.
In Japanese, there are similar words.
And you can make them easily.

You only add “me” to the end of unit word.

Unit word without “me” expresses the number of the object, but unit word with “me” expresses the order in the same objects.


Especially, because the unit words I introduced in the preceding section have the meaning of order, the words with “me” are often used.


The number of floors of a building


“Kai” is the unit word expressing the number of floors of a building.
This is the same as the pronunciation of above “kai” expressing repeat times, but the kanji character differs.

In Japan, the ground floor is the “ikkai” (= first floor).
For underground floor, “chika” is added before the number.
The first underground floor is “chika ikkai”.

In addition, the floor number as an attribute of the building is expressed using “kaidate”.

Unit word for age


The common unit word for age is “sai”.

But the following counting is also often used.
Until 10 : Counting by “tsu”
over 11 : Direct number

In addition, the adult age in Japan has been 20 years old.
So, just 20 years old is often called a special word “hatachi”.

I show some example sentences.

He is 6 years old.

> Kare wa roku-sai desu.
> Kare wa muttsu desu.

She is 18 years old.

> Kanojo wa juu-hassai desu.
> Kanojo wa juu-hachi desu.

I’m 20 years old.

> Watashi wa nijussai desu.
> Watashi wa nijuu desu.
> Watashi wa hatachi desu.

Unit word for temperature

As the unit word of temperature, “do” is used. It is the same as “do” for repeat times.

In Japan, temperatures is expressed in degrees Celsius. Degrees Fahrenheit are never used.
The temperature of ice is 0°C and the temperature of boiled water is 100°C.

For the temperature under 0°C, “reika”, “hyootenka” or “mainasu” is added before the number.

And when the temperature has a number at the first decimal place, the decimal part is separated and is read with a unit word “bu” in some cases.


Reading of currencies

The unit of money in Japan is “yen”.
But, the normal pronunciation is “en”. The currency symbol is “¥”.

There is no sound change by connecting number and the unit word.
Only in the case of “4 yen”, it is often read as “yo-en”.

The main currencies in the world are the following.


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