Counting People in Japanese

by Buddy Lindsey


One thing we use a lot, but probably don’t realize is when we count people. “There are I’d say 15 people over there.” or “We have 6 people”. We use this quite a bit especially when it comes to groups of people.

To count people we will use にん at the end of the a number, basically. Here is 1 through 10. 1, 2, 3…

  1. ひとり
  2. ふたり
  3. さんにん
  4. よにん
  5. ごにん
  6. ろくにん
  7. しちにん
  8. はちにん
  9. きゅうにん
  10. じゅうにん

Be sure to notice 1, 2, and 4. 1 and 2 are the exceptions, fortunately it is simple to remember. ひとり is 1 person and ふたり is 2 people. You will encounter these in other counters so you just end it with り. Just a quick not that can help with other counting. Most of the time ひと will be と as the second character and for ふたり’s second character will be た. This got me for a while I kept getting them backwards. Finally is よにん this basically just drop the ん in よん.

Here is an example how you can use this counter in a sentence.


The structure is

person が X にん います

Note: remember います deals with existence of a person.

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