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Lesson 112: The general counter 〜つ

You've already learned a fair number of different counters, and there are a lot more we haven't covered. In this lesson, we will learn to count with 〜つ, the general counter for physical objects. It can be used to count any material thing (with the exception of people), and therefore is useful if you don't know the specific counter for a type of object.

For example, while a specific counter word solely for chopsticks exists, it would be perfectly correct to use the general counter instead when you refer to some quantity of chopsticks.

This set of counters is highly irregular and requires a bit of memorization; however, the general counter is the most versatile and frequently used of all the counters, so learning it well is worth the trouble!

English Japanese
one (object) ひと
hitotu
two (objects) ふた
hutatu
three (objects) みっ
mittu
four (objects) よっ
yottu
five (objects) いつ
itutu
six (objects) むっ
muttu
seven (objects) なな
nanatu
eight (objects) やっ
yattu
nine (objects) ここの
kokonotu
ten (objects) 十つとお
too

Below are some example sentences using this counter.

English Japanese
How many do you want? いくつほしいですか?
ikutu hosii desu ka?
I want three notebooksthings. みっつのノートがほしいです。
mittu no nooto ga hosii desu.
Wanda has four carsthings. ワンダーさんはよっつのくるまがあります。
wandaa san ha yottu no kuruma ga arimasu.

Note that if you do know the counter an object takes, it is always better to use the more specific counter. The sentences above actually sound a bit strange, because the counters they should take are commonly known. Don't worry, you will soon learn how to count notebooks and cars properly.