The curriculum lineup has been updated!

第24課: Numbers I: Sino-Japanese Numbers

Sino-Japanese numbers come from Chinese and are the most important kind of numbers in Japanese. Number(s) in Japanese is かず. A similar word is 数字すうじ. 数字 refers to units and or the characters that write out units. So, 数 doesn't always been the same thing as 数字. 

Sino-Japanese Numbers


Though we are dealing with numbers that come from Chinese, some such as those in bold are actually native words treated as Sino-Japanese numbers. 4 is usually よん because し is homophonous with  (death). 9 is usually きゅう because く is homophonous with  (suffering). し and く are hardly ever in big numbers. 7 is often なな, and you don't hear しち after the tens as an initial digit. 

 1 一(いち) 2 二(に) 3 三(さん) 4 四(よん・し) 5 五(ご)
 6 六(ろく) 7 七(なな・しち) 8 八(はち) 9 九(きゅう・く) 10 十(じゅう)

Zero Note: Zero can be ゼロ, れい (零), or 〇(まる). まる means "circle" and is like "o" for zero. ゼロ is written as 0 in numbers. れい is Sino-Japanese and is also common.


  Because this system is broken up by powers of four, big numbers are easy. 11 is "ten one". 200 is "two hundred". 10,000 is the fourth power, so the unit changes. To raise the power further, you add 十, 百, and 千 in that order. This doesn't stop where the chart stops, but it's all you need to know for now. 

 11 十一(じゅういち) 12 十二(じゅうに) 20 二十(にじゅう)
 30 三十(さんじゅう) 100 百(ひゃく) 300 三百(さんびゃく
 600 六百(ろっぴゃく 800 八百(はっぴゃく 1,000 (一)千((いっ)せん)
 3,000 三千(さんぜん 4,000 四千(よんせん) 7,000 ななせん
 8,000 八千(はっせん 10,000 一万(いちまん) 100,000 十万(じゅうまん)

Number Notes:

1. いっせん really isn't ever used unless a number precedes it. So, if you want to say 11,000, you should say いちまんいっせん. 

2. Due to certain phonetic rules, 300, 600, 800, 3,000, and 8,000 seem irregular.

Practice (1):

Part I: Write out the following numbers in 漢字.

1. 3,004 2. 684 3. 10,563 4. 24
5. 795 6. 18,974 7. 100,674 8. 201,345

Part II: Write out the following numbers in Arabic numerals.

1. 五百六十七 2. 四十五万六千七百八十九 3. 三十五 4. 八千九百五十九
5. 二百十 6. 四十七 7. 十万二百四十五

Part III: Write out the following numbers in かな.

1. 四十 2. 七千六百三十八   3. 二千三百四十六      4. 三百五十三 5. 百二  6. 八百九十三

Spelling Numbers

     The most common way to write numbers is using 0, 1, 2, etc. 漢字 are still used in vertical texts, set phrases, and what not but not in the realm of math. 漢字 spellings can be used like Arabic numerals, which is common in pricing and literature. Units like 万 can be in 漢字 like in 2万2千 (22,000), which is common in news reports.

 Arabic Numerals Traditional Kanji like 0, 1, 2, 3... Abbreviated 1, 2, 3...
 203 二百三 二〇三 203
 5,843 五千八百四十三 五八四三 5843
 9,630,000 九百六十三万 九六三〇〇 963万

Practice (2): Write the following numbers in a different way.

1. 100 2. 6万7370 3. 七〇四三〇〇

Note: Add マイナス(-) to the front to make negative numbers. So, -5 would be マイナスご.

Phone Number

  For phone numbers (電話番号でんわばんごう) simply read out the numbers. One mora numbers may become two morae long. So, に → にぃ. 4, 7, and 9 are normally よん, なな, and きゅう respectively. For zero, you can hear ゼロ, れい, or まる. まる is especially preferred by clerks. In conversion, ゼロ is the most common. On TV, you may often hear れい especially in formal situations like NHK news announcements. の stands for a dash, but not everyone includes it. This is just like how English speakers optionally say space or dash.  

"What is your phone number?" "It's 3056-7735".

     You could also say XXXX番のXXXX. 番 is the #. , 2 and 10 may be ふた and とお respectively with -番. In fact, ひゃくとおばん, #110, is the Japanese equivalent of 911. #119 is used to call firefighters, etc.

Practice (3): Write out the following made-up phone numbers in  かな.

1. 977-947-4773   2. 6734-8539    3. 36-463-7574    4. 64-64-647       5. 6766-7744


 Next Lesson → 第7課: Counters


Practice (1)

Part I

1. 三千四       2. 六百八十四      3. 一万五百六十三      4. 二十四                             5. 七百九十五
6. 一万八千九百七十四              7. 十万六百七十四      8. 二十万(一)千三百四十五

Part II

1. 567      2. 456,789     3. 35     4. 8,959    5. 210   6. 47   7. 100,245 

Part III

1. よんじゅう    2. ななせんろっぴゃくさんじゅうはち  3. にせんさんびゃくよんじゅうろく 4. さんびゃくごじゅうさん
5. ひゃくに 6. はっぴゃくきゅうじゅうさん

Practice (2)

1. 一〇〇、百、1百   2. 六七三七〇、六万七千三百七十、67,370  3. 704,300、七十万四千三百、70万4千3百

Practice (3)

1. きゅう なな なな (の) きゅう よん なな (の) よん なな なな さん
2. ろく なな さん よん (の) はち ご さん きゅう
3. さん ろく (の) よん ろく さん (の) なな ご なな よん
4. ろく よん (の) ろく よん (の) ろく よん なな
5. ろく なな ろく ろく (の) なな なな よん よん

I'm Moving!

I will moving the think tank, which is myself, to a new location this weekend and will be low on funds for a while. New lessons are still being made, but any donations at this time would greatly be appreciated.
Aside from the Donation tab, there are also two GoFundMe campaigns to help out.