Japanese ordinal numbers : 〜目 ( = me) ,番目 ( = banme), 第 ( = dai)

me

「ねえ、右から三つのおもちゃと二番の引き出しにあるおやつ、持って来て。」

= Nee, migi kara mittsume no omocha to nibanme no hikidashi ni aru oyatsu, motte kite.

= Hey, can you bring me the third toy from the right and snacks in the second drawer?

Hi everyone!

Today we have シェイディー先生 ( = Shady sensei) here from Edinburgh to teach you Japanese.

******

こんにちは!シェイディーです。覚えている?また戻ってこられてうれしいです。

= Konnichiwa! Shady desu. Oboete iru? Mata modotte korarete ureshii desu.

= Hello! I’m Shady. Do you remember me?  I am happy to be back here.

これは、僕がゲスト先生として教える2つのレッスンですよ。

= Kore wa boku ga gesuto sensei to shite oshieru   futatsume no ressun desuyo.

= This is my second lesson as a guest teacher.

Today I will teach you how to indicate ordinal numbers in Japanese.

As many of you already know, Japanese counters are a bit complicated.

You have to change counters when you count things/people.

Ex. 一人 ( = hitori) one person,  二人 ( = futari)  two people,  三人 ( = san nin) three people

Ex. 一つ ( = hitotsu) one piece, 二つ ( =  futatsu)  two pieces, 三つ ( = mittsu) three pieces

Ex. 一冊 ( = issatsu) one book, 二冊 (= nisatsu) two books, 三冊 ( = san satsu) three books

Note: We often use regular numbers instead of kanji.

★Please go study Maggie Sensei’s counter lesson if you are not familiar with these.

OK, today I’ll teach you suffixes,  ( = me).

You add  ( = me) after a counter to indicate order.

 !star! How to form:

Number + counter + ( = me)

Ex. 一人 ( = hitori)  one person + ( = me)

 :rrrr: 一人 ( = hitorime) the first person

Ex. 三つ ( = mittsu) three pieces + ( = me)

 :rrrr: 三つ ( = mittsume) the third one

 :l: To make a question:

 ( = nan) what + counter + ( = me)

Ex. 何行 ( = nangyou me) = which line?

or

いくつ ( = ikutsu) how many + ( = me) ( + ( = no) + noun)

Ex. いくつ

= ikutsume

Ex. いくつの信号

= ikutsume no shingou

= How many traffic lights (to ~ from here)

Ex.「郵便局はどこですか?」

= Yuubinkyoku wa doko desu ka?

= Where is the post office?

「まっすぐ行って、三つの信号を左に曲がって下さい。そこから一本の道を右に曲がった角にあります。」

= Massugu itte, mittsume no shingou wo hidari ni magatte kudasai. Soko kara ipponme no michi wo migi ni magatta kado ni arimasu.

= Go straight and turn left at the third traffic signal and turn the first street to right and you will find it on the corner.

Ex. 「あんまりお酒、飲まない方がいいよ。」

= Anmari osake, nomanai hou ga iiyo.

= You shouldn’t drink too much alcohol, you know.

「まだ一杯だよ。」

= Mada ippaime dayo.

= But this is just the first glass.

Ex. それでは10行から読んでください。

= Soredewa juugyoume kara yonde kudasai.

= OK, then please read from the 10th line.

Ex.2時限と3時限の間に休憩時間が10分あります。

= Nijigenme to sanjigenme no aida ni kyuukei jikan ga juppun arimasu.

= There is 10 minute break between the second and the third period.

Ex. ラッキー!コンサート、一列の席が取れたよ!

=Rakkii! Konsaato, ichiretsume no seki ga toreta yo.

= I got lucky and got a first-row seat for the concert.

Ex. DVDプレーヤーすぐ壊れるんだよね。これでもう3台だよ。

= DVD pureiyaa sugu kowarerun dayo ne. Kore de mou sandaime dayo.

= You know DVD players break easily. This is the third one.

Ex. 右から二つのケーキを下さい。 !shortcake! 

= Migi kara futatsume no keiki wo kudasai.

= Please give me the second cake from right.

Ex. おめでとうございます!お客様はこのお店の1000人のお客様ですのでこちらの賞品を差し上げます。

= Omedetou gozaimasu! Okyakusama wa kono omise no senninme no okyaku sama desu node kochira no shouhin wo sashiagemasu.

= Congratulations! You are our 1000th customers so we would like to give you this prize.

Ex. マギー先生のサイトは今年で6年を迎えました。

= Maggie Sensei no saito wa kotoshi de rokunenme wo mukaemashita.

= Maggie Sensei’s site has entered its 6th year this year.

Ex. 「お母さん、おかわりちょうだい。」

= Okaasan, okawari choudai.

= Mom, can I have seconds?

「これでごはん、3杯よ。」

= Kore de gohan sanbaime yo.

= But this is your third bowl of rice.

Ex. 「日本語能力試験の2級、難しかった?」

= Nihongo nouryokushiken no nikyuu, muzukashikatta?

= Was the JLPT N2 level difficult?

「3回でやっと受かったよ。」

= Sankaime de yatto ukatta yo.

= I barely passed it the third time.

Ex.「ミッションインポッシブルシリーズの何作が一番面白いと思う?」

= Misshion inpposhiburu shiriizu no nansakume ga ichiban omoshiroi to omou?

= Which episode of Mission Impossible series do you think is the best?

「2作じゃない?」

= Nisakume janai?

= I guess the second one. What do you think?

Ex. 「酔っぱらったよ~。」

= Yopparatta yoo…

= I am drunk ..

「1軒からそんなに酔っていたら朝まで持たないなあ。」

= Ikkenme kara sonnani yotte itara asa made motanai naa.

= If you are that drunk from the first bar, you won’t make it through until tomorrow morning.

Ex. A:「このおにぎり美味しい!」

= Kono onigiri oishii!

= These rice balls are delicious!

B:「それで何個目?」

= Sore de nanko me?

= Counting that one, how many have you had?

A:「5個目だよ。」

= Gokome dayo.

= It’s the fifth one.

Ex. 浜松はいくつの駅ですか?

= Hamamatsu wa ikutsume no eki desu ka?

= How many stops from here to Hamamatsu?

Ex. 「日本に来て、今日で何日ですか?」

= Nihon ni kite, kyou de nannichime desu ka?

= Including today, how many days has it been since you got to Japan?

「今日で、10日です。」

= Kyou de, toukame desu.

= Today is the 10th day (since I came to Japan.)

Ex. 詳細は1枚目に書いてあります。

= Shousaiwa ichimaime ni kaite arimasu.

= All the details are written on the first page.

 :n: Another common suffix to show order is  ( = ban)

Number +  ( = ban): When you simply tell a number.

 :l: To make a question: ( = nanban) Which number?

Ex. イチローの背番号は51番です。

= Ichirou no sebangou wa gojuuichi ban desu.

= Ichiro’s uniform number is No. 51.

Ex. 番号札、10をお持ちの方、2カウンターへお越し下さい。

= Bangoufuda, juuban wo omochi no kata, niban kauntaa e okoshi kudasai.

= A customer who has No.10. Please go to the counter 2.

Note:  一番( = ichiban)  means “No.1” or the best / the most ~ .

Ex. マギー先生は一です! :maggie-small: 

= Maggie Sensei wa ichiban desu.

= You are the best, Maggie Sensei!

Ex. シェーディー先生は一、かわいい先生です。

= Shady Sensei wa ichiban, kawaii sensei desu.

= Shady Sensei is the cutest teacher.

Number + ( = ban)+ counter

Question: ( = nanban) + counter

Ex. 東京行きの新幹線は何線から出ますか?

= Toukyou iki (or yuki) no shinkansen wa nanban sen kara demasu ka?

= What (Which) track does the Shinkansen (bullet train) for Tokyo leave from?

You can also express the order with “Number +  ( = ban) “

Ex. クラスで2の成績だった。

= Kurasu de niban no seiseki datta.

= My grades are the second best in the class.

But if you want to show the order, add ( = me)

( = ban) + ( = me)

So… Number + ( = ban) = No. ~~

Ex.= niban = No.2

 :rrrr: =nibanme = The second

 :l:  To make a question:  ( = nanbanme)

Ex. A:「あの女の子、かわいい!」

= Ano onnanoko, kawaii!

= That girl is cute!

B:「前から何の子?」

= Mae kara nanbanme no ko?

= Counting from the front, which girl?

A:「前から3の子」 boucingheart! 

= Mae kara sanbanme no ko.

= The third girl from the front.

Ex. 「どの歯が痛いの?」

= Dono ha ga itai no?

= Which tooth hurts?

「奥から2の歯が痛いです。」

= Oku kara nibanme no ha ga itai desu.

= The second molar from the back hurts.

Ex. 僕はクラスで4に背が高い。

= Boku wa kurasu de yonbanme ni se ga takai.

= I am the 4th tallest in the class.

Ex.  このCDの6の曲、聴いてみて。すごくいいよ。

= Kono CD no rokubanme no kyoku, kiite mite. Sugoku iiyo.

= Please listen to the 6th song of this CD. It’s really good.

Ex. この子は下から2の子です。

= Kono ko wa shitakara nibanme no ko desu.

= This boy/girl is my second youngest child.

Ex. 日本で2に高い山は北岳です。

= Nihon de nibanme ni takai yama wa Kitatake desu.

= The second highest mountain in Japan is Kitatake.

Ex. AKBは「クラスで10に可愛い女の子」を集めたとしている。

= AKB wa “Kurasu de juubanme ni kawaii onna no ko” wo atsumeta to shite iru.

= It is said that AKB gathered “the 10th cutest girls in the class”.

Ex. ワイン、それで何本

= Wain, sore de nanbonme?

 = How many bottles of wine have you had including that one?

Note: There is no equivalent interrogative word for  “ ( = nan) + counter + ( = me)” / “目 (= nanbanme) ” “いくつ ( = ikutsume)” in English.

So it is kind of difficult to translate them in English.

For example,

a) 日本に何回、来たことがありますか?

= Nihon ni nankai, kita koto ga arimasuka?

 :rrrr:  How many times have you come to Japan?

You want to know the number of trips to Japan in total.

Ex. 3回です。

= Sankai desu.

= Three times.

b) 日本に来たのはこれで何回ですか?

= Nihon ni kita nowa kore de nankaime desu ka?

 :rrrr: How many times have you come to Japan including this trip?

You can’t translate this sentence directly but what you want to know is ” this trip is the ~th time to come to Japan”.

Ex. これで3回です。

= Kore de sankaime desu.

= This (trip) is the third time.

******

Another prefix to show the ordinal number is

( = dai): It is mainly used for something more official

 !star! How to form:

(= dai) + number + counter (+ ( = me) )

Ex. ( = dai) + 二章 ( = nishou) two chapters

 :rrrr: 二章 ( = dai ni shou) the second chapter

Ex. オバマは44代目のアメリカ合衆国の大統領です。

= Obama wa dai yonjuuyon dai me no amerika gashuukoku no daitouryou desu.

= Obama is the 44th President of the United States.

Ex. それでは一次試験を始めます。

= Soredewa dai ichiji shiken wo hajimemasu.

= We now start  the first stage exam.

Ex. この曲の二楽章がすばらしい。

= Kono kyoku no dai ni gakushou ga subarashii.

= The second movement in this song is wonderful.

Ex. 年の暮れになると何故か日本ではベートーベンの第九をよく耳にします。

= Toshi no kure ni naru to naze ka nihon dewa beetooben no daiku wo yoku mimi ni shimasu.

= We hear Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 a lot at the end of the year in Japan for some reason.

Note: = abbreviation from 「ベートーヴェンの交響曲 = Beetooben no koukyoukyoku dai kyuuban) = “Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9”

Ex. それでは第7回、日本語弁論大会を始めます。

= Sore dewa dai nanakai, nihongo benron taikai wo hajimemasu.

= Now we will start the 7th Japanese speech contest.

Ex. 週刊誌に「 ヒカルが2子を出産」って書いてあったよ。

= Shuukanshi ni “Hikaru ga dai nishi wo shussan”  tte kaite atta yo.

= The weekly magazine says “Hikaru just had the second child”.

Ex. 六感で彼が嘘をついているとわかった。

= Dairokkan de kare ga uso wo tsuite iru to wakatta.

= My sixth sense told me that he was lying.

Ex. 卒業式に好きな男子の制服の2ボタンをもらったのに結局、付き合わなかった。

= Sotsugyoushiki ni sukina danshi no seifuku no dainibotan wo moratta noni kekkyoku tsukiawanakatta.

= Even though a boy I liked gave me the second button from his uniform at our graduation ceremony, in the end we didn’t go out.

 !Anapple! Cultural Note: 

It is a kind of romantic custom to get the second button of the school uniform from a boy you like on their graduation day.

****************
maggie-senseiマギー先生より = Maggie Sensei yori  = From Maggie Sensei

シェーディー先生、ありがとう!

= Shady Sensei arigatou!

= Thank you Shady Sensei!

また一緒にお仕事ができてうれしかったです。

= Mata issho ni oshigoto ga dekite ureshikatta desu.

= I was very happy to be able to work with you again.

多分、このレッスンは、このサイトの368のレッスンになると思います。

= Tabun, kono ressun wa, kono saito no sanbyaku rokujuu hachiban me no ressun ni naru to omoimasu.

= I think this lesson is maybe the 368 th lesson on this site.

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21 Comments

  1. Maggie-sensei,
    My textbook has numbered lessons but also has numbered sub-lessons. How would I say, “Lesson 4, section 3”? I know lesson 4 is “daiyonka”, but I don’t know how to deal with the other part.
    Arigatoo!

  2. So, as far as I understand you use 番目 to say that something is e.g. the first in or from something.
    So when I want to say, give me the book from the bookshelf I would have to use that.
    But if I just say I am reading the first book, I use number+counter+目. Furthermore counting from 10 upwards I have to use 番目 since 目 is only for the numbers 1-9 (I read this on another website).
    But what if my word doesn´t have its own counter, like child?
    As in the example below I just use what´s most associated with this word, so 一人目の子?

    2. In this sentece(from the very first examples above): そこから一本目の道を右に曲がった角にあります
    Why is 一本目 translated as second street and not first street here?

    Thank´s in advance.

    1. @Michael

      Hi Michael,
      number+counter+目 Furthermore counting from 10 upwards I have to use 番目 since 目 is only for the numbers 1-9 (I read this on another website).
      → You can use whatever number.
      1冊目の本〜100冊目の本〜冊目
      1台目の車〜50台目の車, etc.

      I think what you read is general counter, 一つ = ひとつ= hitotsu、二つ = ふたつ= futatsu 、三つ =みっつ= mittsu….九つ = ここのつ= kokonotsu、十 = とう= tou
      You count children with 一人= hitori, 二人= futari…
      So as you said, the first child is 一人目の子供/ 一人目の子

      2. Or really? Then it is a mistake. 一本目= should be the first street.

  3. maggie sensei… you’re mind reader.. thank you !heart3!
    what is the difference between ban and gou both means number and how can I use gou?

    1. @Roro

      Hi Roro,

      番 is used when you simply count a number from the top.
      号 is more limited. You use 号 for the issue, edition, address of an apartment/house, etc.

      So imagewise, if are counting many people/things and put the order, you use 番
      And if you count the order of something special, (invention, address of your house/apartment, model number)
      Also you use it for a model name.
      アポロ13号= Apollo 13
      So if I make/have a rocket, a bus, a special car I will name it マギー号

    2. Dear Maggie sensei,

      I was wondering how do you say “Happy 21st birthday!” in Japanese? Or It’s my 21st birthday? Which counter would I use?

      Thank you!

      1. @Andy
        Hi Andy,
        Happy 21st birthday!
        21歳のお誕生日おめでとう(ございます*)
        *ございます=polite/formal

        It’s my 21st birthday
        今日は私(僕*)の21歳の誕生日です。

        僕(boku) for a man

  4. 第一、368番目のレッスンありがとうございます、片時も非番じゃないらしいです。第二に、タイポを見つけるのは私の十八番ですね。 :P

    “それから一本目の道…
    soko kara ipponme no michi…” :rrrr: sore or soko?

    I have a question concerning the counters in combination with these forms. The first one seem clear enough, its always number+counter+目のnoun:
    1. 1000人目のお客様
    Now, lets try the same example using the other forms, I guess it is:

    2. 1000番目のお客様 – If this is correct, 人 is missing, which means you can’t use counters with 番目, right?

    3. 第1000人のお客様 – If this is correct, 目 is missing, but could you add it after 人?
    Also, some of your examples for 第 don’t have a counter, (第2ボタン, 第二子) so could I omit the counter in this case, ie 第1000お客様?

    And lastly, you gave these examples:

    日本で2番目に高い山は北岳です。
    AKBは「クラスで10番目に可愛い女の子」を集めたとしている。

    I am puzzled about the に after 第目, I was expecting a の. Does it have something to do with the adjectives that are following?

    よろしくお願いします

    1. @Zetsuboumanadeshi

      Thank you for spotting the typo as always. I really appreciate it.

      2. It is not wrong to say 1000番目のお客様. I guess 〜人目のお客様 is more common.

      3. No, you don’t say 第1000人のお客様

      4.

      If you are pointing a girl who is standing in a line, you say
      前から10番目の女の子 = the 10th girl from the front.
      Not10番目に

      When you refer to someone/something in a ranking, you tend to use に

      彼はクラスで10番目に頭のいい生徒だ。
      (X Not の)

        1. @WenHao

          Sorry for the late reply. I was away for a week. off. :)
          No, I don’t have “when” lesson. But someone else asked me to make a lesson so I will add it on the list.

  5. Kore ga boku ga gesuto sensei to shite oshieru !koujichuu!  !koujichuu!  [futatume]—> futatsume no ressun desuyo.

    有り難うございますマギー先生とShady先生  !happyface! !happyface!

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