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Goin’ Japanesque!

Basics of Japanese: Big Numbers

Ichi, ni, san… back in Lesson 6 we learned how to count up to 99, but what about numbers that go higher than that? You might not think you’d need very large numbers for every day life in Japan but you’d be very wrong! And the reason why has to do with Japanese money.

If the currency exchange was perfectly equal, US $1 would equal 100 yen. This means $10 is 1,000 yen and with $100 you’re already at 10,000 yen! Currently the Japanese yen is weak, which makes these numbers even bigger! Naturally, even normal grocery shopping can thus lead to using some very big numbers and Japan is still a cash-based society, so knowing these numbers is important!

Today I’ll show you how to count from 100 – 99 million. You’ll probably not be dealing with numbers too much higher than that on a day-to-day basis.

Note: Be sure to check out Lesson 6 for a review. It will help you with the numbers ahead! Take notes and prepare for the quiz at the end of this lesson.

 

100 = ひゃく hyaku

100 and 1,000 get treated the same as 10 from Lesson 6. You’re just doing simple multiplication and addition to these. The only thing to look out for is that a couple numbers create a minor pronunciation change.

100s

150 = 100 + 50 — Hyaku Gojyuu

632 = 6 x 100 + 32 — Roppyaku Sanjyuuni

999 = 9 x 100 + 99 — Kyuuhyaku Kyuujyuukyuu

 

1,000 = せん sen

Sen works the same way as hyaku. There are also a couple words to look out for because of their somewhat strange pronunciations.

1ks

8,020 = 8 x 1,000 + 20 –Hassen Nijyuu

2,500 = 2 x 1,000 + 500 — Nisen Gohyaku

1,007 = 1,000 + 7 — Sen Nana (or Issen Nana)

 

10,000 = いちまん ichiman

Here’s where things begin to get tricky for English speakers. You probably want to say “jyuusen” (10 x 1,000) when you see this number. But resist! In Japanese, the 10,000 spot becomes a whole new word: “man”. You should always specify ichi-man if it’s 10,000.

The best way to figure out where to begin your “man” is to move the comma one more to the left. Instead of 10,000 think of it as “1,0000”.

Fortunately, for “man” there is no weird pronunciation changes!

50,000 = 5,0000

Now, with the comma moved over, it should be clear that this number is go-man (5 man).

100,000 = 10,0000

This is jyuu-man (10 man).

1,890,000 = 189,0000

And hyaku-hachi-jyuu-kyuu-man (189 man).

 

100 million = いちおく ichioku

“Oku” works in the exact same way as “man” and also has no changes to pronunciation to cause you worry.

 

Quiz

Write down how you think these numbers will be said and then check your answers below.

  1. 649
  2. 5,690
  3. 22,097
  4. 600,760
  5. 503,090,001

 

 

Check your answers

1. Roppyaku Yonjyuukyuu
2. Gosen Roppyaku Kyuujyuu
3. Niman Nisen Kyuujyuunana
4. Rokujyuuman Nanahyaku Rokujyuu
5. Gooku Sanzen-kyuuman Ichi

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Katrina

About the author

Katrina has worked as a Japanese language teacher and freelance translator for several years. She loves traveling and has been all over Japan. Click here --> Free Japanese Lessons Practical Japanese Lessons

View all articles by Katrina
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