TIL: Human Japanese 32 Pt.2 (Counting Objects)

The little dude was sick today. It meant I took time off work, and he didn’t want to do anything except cling to me all day. He watched some cartoons while I played Pokémon Yellow. I also discovered, that he happily would sit in my lap and pay attention if I played Influent. And I must say, I needed a refresher. I now have flower pot はち memorized for reals though. Enough rambling! Back on the express train to counting!

・Days of the Month
・ねん – Counting Years
・さい – Counting Age
・¥ – Counting Money

Days of the Month

Days of the week are one thing (that I shamefully don’t have fully memorized) but there’s also days of the month. You know… like the May 1st, May 2nd, etc… first let’s throw in a quick day of the week reminder since I’ve forgotten them.
にち曜日ようび「Sun Day – Sunday」
げつ曜日「Moon Day – Monday」
曜日「Fire Day – Tuesday」
すい曜日「Water Day – Wednesday」
もく曜日「Wood Day – Thursday」
きん曜日「Gold Day – Friday」
曜日「Earth Day – Saturday」
As an aside, despite the simplicity of using the elements, it’s neat to remember that kanji often have many meanings. If combined with せい instead of 曜日 we actually get the days of the week representing Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. Use of the planets for days originated in Mesopotamia and then found it’s way around the world!

And onto the actual Human Japanese lesson:
ーついたち「the first of the month」
ーふつか「the second of the month」
ーみっか「the third」
ーよっか「the fourth」
ーいつか「the fifth」
ーむいか「the sixth」
ーなのか「the seventh」
ーようか「the eighth」
ーここのか「the ninth」
ーとうか「the tenth」
ーじゅうよっか「the fourteenth」
ーはつか「the twentieth」
ーにじゅうよっか「the twenty-fourth」
ー~にち「counter for all other days of the month」
ーなんにち「Which day of the month?」
ーいち月ついたち「January 1st」
ーじゅう月じゅうよっか「October 14th」
ーはち月さんじゅうにち「August 30th」
ーじゅうに月はつか「December 20th」
ーきょうはなんにちですか。「What day is it today?」
ーきょうはじゅういちにちです「Today is the 11th.」
ーなんにちですか。「What day of the month is it?」
ーなん月なんにちですか。「What is the month and date?」

Years (ねん)

ー~ねん「counter for years」
ーなん年「what year?」
ーいち年「one year」
ーじゅう年「ten years」
ーごひゃく年「five hundred years」
In English we might say nineteen-eighty-four… but years get pronounced in full in Japanese and then get 年 tagged on. 1984 becomes せんきゅうやくはちじゅうよ年. 2000 is にせん年, etc.

According to Conservapedia, dates in Japanese tend to be written as yyyy年mm月dd日. This is certainly easier (than speaking) as:
13 September 2008 becomes, 2008年09月13日.

This of course makes these exercises painful to spell out… but for the sake of reinforcing numbers, let’s continue on…
ーせんきゅうひゃくななじゅうよねんにがつみっか「February 3rd, 1974」
ーにせんねんくがつここのか「September 9th, 2000」
ーにせんじゅうねんじゅうにがつじゅうよっか「December 14th, 2010」
ーにせんごひゃくねんさんがつはつか「March 20th, 2500」

Age (さい)

ー~さい「the counter for age」
ーいっさい「1 year old」
ーはっさい「8 years old」
ーじゅうさい「10 years old」
ーはたち「20 years old」
ーなんさい「how many years old?」
ーおいくつ「how many years old? (polite)」
Notice that the polite version of how many years old, is simply the generic counter いくつ with the お honorific at the beginning. 20 is the traditional age of adulthood in Japan, and so has it’s own unique word.

ーあなたはなんさいいですか。「How old are you?」
ーにじゅういっさいです。「I’m 21.」
ーろくじゅうごさいです。「I’m 65.」
ージョンさんはにじゅうごさいです。「John is 25.」
ーまりこさんはなんさいいですか。「Mariko is how old?」
ーまりこさんははたちです。「Mariko is 20.」

Counting Money (¥)

ー~えん「the counter for yen」
ーいくら「how much does it cost?」
There are no Dollars and Cents, there is only Yen in Japanese currency.

What’s weird about this exercise… is Human Japanese doesn’t use the kanji for Yen. As such, everything learned is as though it were being spoken. In Canada, we would write that something costs $2.50, however we would verbally state it costs “two dollars and fifty cents”. $ on the left of numbers, dollar to the right of numbers. Japanese is the same. So, since I’m practicing the verbal mnemonics…. I’m going to write はちじゅうえん with the translation being ¥80.


Appending さつ or だま specifies if it’s a bill or a coin. Something to come back to when the time comes I need to handle currency…

ーこれはいくらですか。「How much is this?」
ーそうですか。これはいくらですか。「Ah. How much is this?」
ーそれはせんにひゃくえんです。「That is ¥1200.」
ーこのラジオはいくらですか。「How much is this radio?」


ーまりこさん、これをみて。「Mariko, look at this.」
ーなんですか。「What is it?」
ーさらです。かいましょうかね。「It’s a plate. I should buy it, right?」
ーいくらですか。「How much is it?」
ーええと、さんぜんえんです。「Um… it’s ¥3000.」

ーこれはにせんえんですよ。「This is ¥2000.」
ーあ、それがいいですね。「Ah, that’s good.」
ーかいますか。「Will you buy it?」
ーえん、このさらをさんまいかいましょう。「Yeah, I’ll buy three.」まりこさんはなんにしますか。「Mariko, what will you do?」
ーこのさけはせんごyかくえんです。「This sake is ¥1500.」ちちにさんぼんかいましょう。「I’ll buy three bottles for my father.」

ーおとうさんはおいくつですか。「How old is your father?」
ーよんじゅうななさいです。「47」せんげっつがたんじょうびでした。「His Birthday was last month.」
ーあ、いまなんじですか。「Ah, what time is it now?」
ーさんじさんじゅうごふんです。「3:35」このみせはごじまでです。「This store is open until 5:00」
ーじゃ、じかんがありますね。「Ah, there’s time then, right?」


ーこれをみって – the て form + ください is a request. ください is often left off or changed to ね between friends. Similar to Canadian saying, “Hey get me X, eh?” to a friend or “Please get me X” to someone not close.
ーええと – stalling phrase such as “um…” or “uh…”
ーなんにしますか? – “what will you do (go to?)” commonly used to ask about a decision. Similar to English’s “what will you go with?” (when ordering at a restaurant).
ちちにさんぼんかいましょう – to buy someone something you buy it “to” them.
ーさんぼんかいましょう – “Let’s” buy three bottles can also mean “I’ll” buy three bottles. Japanese often use this method when making a decision on the spot. I’ve done this in English too.
ーかいましょうかね – similar to above, but the ね makes it a thoughtful question to one’s self. “Hmm…. shall I buy it?”
ーこのみせは5:00までです – “this store is until 5:00.” the から and まで are standard for describing store hours.