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Basic Lessons

At the Restaurant (4)

Dialogue 

Click here for the dialogue for "At the Restaurant."

Counting people and things 

(1) People

"Nin" is used for counting people, though one person and two persons are irregular.

1 hitori
一人
2 futari
二人
3 sannin
4 yonin
四人
5 gonin
五人
6 rokunin
六人
7 shichinin
七人
8 hachinin
八人
9 kyuunin
九人
10 juunin
十人

"How many people" is "nannin" or sometimes "nanmei". "Nanmei-sama" in the sample dialogue is very polite. The waiter or waitress often use it.

"Sama" is a title of respect to address people. It can be attached to the family name, the given name or the full name. It is more polite than "san", though it is rarely used in casual conversation. It is used with the name of the addressee on a letter and also when addressing a customer.

Kouen ni kodomo ga gonin imasu.
公園に子供が五人います。
There are five children in the park.
Gakusei wa nannin imasu ka.
学生は何人いますか。
How many students are there?

(2) Things

Native Japanese numbers are used for counting things. "Ikutsu" is "how many."

Koohii o futatsu kudasai.
コーヒーをふたつください。
Two coffee, please.
Kanji o ikutsu oboemashita ka.
漢字をいくつ覚えましたか。
How many kanji did you remember?

There is another way to count things by using a counter. The Japanese uses a variety of counters to count objects, often on the basis of their shapes.

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