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



= 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.



= 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.


= 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 + 目  ( = me)

Ex. 何行 ( = nangyou me) = which line?


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)


= Yuubinkyoku wa doko desu ka?

= Where is the post office?


= 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.


= 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.


= 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?


= 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?


= Sankaime de yatto ukatta yo.

= I barely passed it the third time.


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

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


= Nisakume janai?

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

Ex. 「酔っぱらったよ~。」

= Yopparatta yoo…

= I am drunk ..


= 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!


= Sore de nanko me?

= Counting that one, how many have you had?


= 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?


= 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: 番  ( = nanban) Which number?

Ex. イチローの背番号は51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!


= 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?


= 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

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

 !star! How to form:

  ( = dai) + number + counter 

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

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

Ex. オバマは44代のアメリカ合衆国の大統領です。

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

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

(You can also say  44代目= younjuu yon dai me)

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


= Shady Sensei arigatou!

= Thank you Shady Sensei!


= Mata issho ni oshigoto ga dekite ureshikatta desu.

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


= 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.


Could you be my Patron? 

I appreciate your support!  サポートありがとう!

Become a Patron!




You may also like


  1. Hi sensei! Your site looks really good for studying Japanese, but I have some doubts.

    The interrogative form of kanji 目 is 何 _ 目 (nan_me), but what is the interrogative form of 第? is 第 何?

    Also, I understood 目, 第 and 番, but I didn’t understand the meaning of 番 目, can you explain me?

    PS. <3
    sorry for any mistake, i'm from Brazil, i don't speak english

    1. Hello Allany

      Q what is the interrogative form of 第? is 第 何?
      Some might say 第何番目 but you can simply ask 何番目 
      Technically 第 and 番目 both indicate the order so you are not supposed to use them together.
      Ex. 第二番目→二番目(When you simply count the number) ・第二番 (You use it for something more official)

      the meaning is the same.
      But after 番目
      Number + 番目+(の+noun)
      Number + counter + 目+(の+noun)

      右から2番目の人 = 右から2人目の人
      The second person from the right

      The slight difference is you tend to use 番目 when there are multiple things, people or orders.
      So it sounds a little strange if you say
      2回目の結婚 is more natural than 2番目の結婚

  2. Hello Maggie sensei,

    How to say 1st week, 2nd week ?

    Is it like : isshuume, nishuume or daiisshuu, dainishuu …

    Thank you

  3. Ref. それでは第一次試験を始めます。
    Can you say it without 第?

  4. Hi Maggie,
    thank you for this site.
    I have still some problems in using ban and banme.
    In your examples:
    My grades are the second best in class. KURASU de niban no seiseki datta.
    I am the fourth tallest person in class. Boku wa kurasu de yonbanme ni se ga takai.

    How can i transform the first sentence to express i am the second best pupil in class, just as the second sentence? Do i have to use “nibanme” then?

    1. Hi nouse

      Ah OK, here is the basic formation
      ~ banme no + noun
      ~ banme ni + adjective
      ~ banme ni + (noun + no/ga) adjective + noun

      So if you want to say “I am the second best student in the class.”, you say
      クラスで2番目に成績が( or の) いい生徒だ。
      (Kurasu de nibanme ni seiseki ga( or no) ii seito da)

  5. Hi Maggie,

    I came here looking for a bit of information on using ‘目’ as a counter and now I have a lot to read through! But I only got a few sentences in before I got confused why 一本目 (and not 一つ目) was used to say ‘first street’, but now I understand ‘本’ is used to count long, cylindrical objects. I had only seen this used before for bottles, etc., but I guess it is used for streets as well.

    My question really is – as there are so many different counters in Japanese – would a Japanese speaker understand what I meant if I said, for example, 一つ目の道?
    I am trying to learn the correct counters to use, and I already know that people are counted differently, but wow there are so many! For once, English is actually easier to learn ;) I think I will have to draw a wall chart with pictures and the counters used for them :)

    1. Hi Cindy

      Welcome to my site!

      Yes, you use 本 as a counter for streets. (Streets are long, right? 😉) 
      And yes! Japanese people do understand if you say 一つ目の道. The counter of 一つ、二つ are general way to count things.
      I also have a basic counter lesson with a little quiz here. 数字

  6. Hi, sensei! That’s my first comment here!

    I didn’t get the last part of the sentence “まっすぐ行って、三つ目の信号を左に曲がって下さい。そこから一本目の道を右に曲がった角にあります。” I don’t understand the connection between 角にあります with the た form that comes before. It looks like the “そこから一本目の道を右に曲がった” part is being used as an adjective for 角, but this doesn’t make sense to me…

    Could you help me?

    P.S.: I’m from Brazil!

    Seu site parece ser muito bom para quem quer realmente aprender japonês! ;-)

    1. Hi Márcio!
      It is a very conversational phrase. 
      The whole phrase is
      You often skip ところの in conversation.

      Wow! I am so grateful for your message in Portuguese.
      Muito obrigada!! ❤️

  7. Arigato Maggie Sensei. I am having a difficult time saying today’s date because everything seams to be backwards. For instance today’s (year, month, ordinal number day?)


    Thank you.

    1. AI
      year, month, date*, day?
      2018年2月13日(火曜日) = nisen juuhachi nen, ni gatsu, juu san nichi, kayoubi

      And the date has a special way of saying 1st = ついたち 2nd ふつか 3rd みっか 4th よっか 5th いつか 6th むいか 7th なのか 8th ようか 9th ここのか 
      10th とうか and 20th はつか

  8. Hi there.
    In your examples for usages of 第, you have the following example:

    In this case, is it acceptable to use both 第 and 目 together?

    1. Thank you for spotting it*. Though it is said in the newspaper, I think it is redundant. It will be better just to say 第44代 or 44代目. I will fix it and add some note.
      (There are cases that you use 第 and 目 together, though and it is listed in the dictionary.)

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

        It’s my 21st birthday

        僕(boku) for a man

  12. 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

    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:


    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?


    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


      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.

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

      (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.

  13. 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *