Language Learners' Library

Concerning Japanese numerals, they are really quite tricky. Different uses of numbers require different pronunciations of the kanji. Furthermore, to count things, which is how numbers are usually used, there are a myriad of suffixes you have to know.

As an example, here are some sentences featuring the number 4:

Japanese English 4 is pronounced as:
4人でいいですか。 Is four people okay? yo, 4人 = よにん yonin, four people
人形は四つを買った。 I bought four dolls. よっ yo + pause, 四つ = よっつ yottsu, four
本は四冊を読んでる。 I’m reading four books よん yon, 四冊 = よんさつ yonsatsu, four + counter word for books
来月は4月です。 Next month it is April shi, 4月 = しがつ shigatsu, four + counter word for month, i.e. the 4th month, or April

So, in short, I would consider the japanese numeral system to be more a part of grammar than of vocabulary.

Also, there are many irregular uses of numerals (一人 = ひとり hitori instead of いちにん ichinin, which would be what you expect, 一日 = ついたち tsuitachi instead of ひとっか hitokka, 十四日 = じゅうよっか juuyokka, while you would expect じゅうよんにち juuyon’nichi based on other dates in the 10’s or 20’s, and the list goes on)


Very detailed explanation. I do proceed in the same way. The only thing that I don’t, is to learn other worlds with the same kanji. This can be a good suggestion to expand my vocabulary more quickly.

As repetition system, I used for a little Anki too, but the effort to load the flashcards in it is beyond my patience. In Japanese you need always to do some intermediate step before to reach your goal and this is a little bit frustrating especially if you don’t have too much time for learning. Moreover, consider that in Italian exist few (or none) material to learn Japanese so I must pass through English in both directions.

For the kanji only, I used for one year or so Wanikani. They made a really good job in creating a nice interactive environment that adapt to your progress and errors to repeat kanji until their complete assimilation.

I also use the Tae Kim’s Guide. For grammar, I also got A Dictionary of Japanese Grammar which is more organized for reference and is in semi-pocket edition respect to Tae Kim’s Guide.

As on-line dictionary, - I agree - is the best you can find in internet. On the paper (yes, I still use also paperback dictionaries) I got two dictionaries which use different searching mechanism. NTC’s New Japanese - Engish Character Dictionary introduced a new system for searching kanji based on the character structure (top-bottom, left-right, …) and the counting of strokes. It is an effective method and you can find immediately the kanji you are looking for. In some (a few) cases, if you are not sure about the strokes count, you need to look in two or three different places. The other dictionary I bought is The New Nelson that uses radicals to look at kanji.

Who is starting from zero (not really from zero, but after he learned hiragana and katakana) I strongly suggest the Genki course. It is very similar to the traditional Minna no Nihongo also very appreciated. I have both, and for what I seen till now, the differences among the two is in how they arranged the arguments to guide the learner. Genki has a modern approach but this is not necessarily better. Both courses are full of funny drawings and hand-made pictures as used in any Japanese context.

Finally, my suggestion is to write in japanese without a computer. You will learn hiragana, katakana, and kanji only if you are able to write them. Here repetition is crucial at least for me.

Now, with all this material… I have only to restart studying… :innocent:


not really true. If you know pronunciation of kanji, you can write it by keyboard while not being able to write with hand.
also its possible to remember meaning of kanji while not remembering pronunciation.


It depends which meaning you assign to the verb to learn.

I’m going to start compiling a short sentence deck now. I’ve learnt from experience that I don’t learn well when the words are in isolation.


How about a sentence challenge?

Give us the sentence A mouse is in the house.

Language Sentence
Latin Est mūs in domū.*
Japanese マウスは家にいる **
Chinese 家里有老鼠
Esperanto Estas muso en la domo

(*) I’m not 100% sure what case domum (house) should be in. I put it in the accusative. I’m also not sure if I need another word to differentiate is in from just in. Edit: I realised I needed est. Edit 2: Turns out I needed the ablative case.

Latin script: ESTMVSINDOMV

**マウス - mausu - a lot of words in katakana are from English
Edit: nezumi may mean rat, but it seems it more correct here
は - wa - topic marker, its like title of text
に - ni - place marker, markers are after word, not before like English “in”
いる - iru - exists - for alive objects
And, yes, no spaces while a lot of words are not single symbol ツ


How about this? We could have

  1. A daily word
  2. A daily simple sentence
  3. A daily complex sentence

What do you think?


Whoever posted the Japanese mouse sentence: interesting that the Japanese would use a recent loanword for that. Are there situations in which it would be more or less appropriate to use the loanword rather than the native term?

Also, Latin learners just decided to add spaces and diacritics since the Romans aren’t here to complain :stuck_out_tongue:

Real Romans would have written ESTMVSINDOMV

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I made myself a number of simple, repetitive sentences centering on agricultural life: mainly I focused on

  1. Things being in or on other things
  2. Things belonging to people

Verb conjugations are looking a bit scary >-<

Here the fifth case, the ablative, is correct.
I think, it should be “domū” then.
The accusative indicates direction, i. e. “in domum” means "(in)to the house.


I’ve never heard マウス be used for normal mice, it’s usually 鼠 (ねずみ)

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Oof. I’m gonna have to edit a lot of sentences in that Anki deck. Thanks. Apparently domō is also correct.

Maybe we should make a Language Learners’ Lounge thread in which all we do is actually speak to each other in the target languages. Every day I could suggest a topic, like “the Amazon” or “boats”.


@Vsotvep Do you know how to find out how many cards you have in an Anki deck? I probably knew once but I’ve forgotten now.

鼠 is not jōyō it usually written not in kanji form, may mean rat

In statistical list
ネズミ 4 743th place
ねずみ 7 887th place
マウス 8 949th place
野鼠 field mouse 54 305th place


A long time ago, I read that the ideograph 学 originally depicted hands on top, showing the child (bottom) in a cradle (now the “roof”) things (top again).

Wiktionary suggests that 学 is simplified from 學 and provides an etymology at學#Chinese. They also state that the word for child may have been involved in its construction.

Side note: I’m surprised that none of the archaic Chinese scripts seem to be in Unicode. They’ve added far more obscure stuff!

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Here is what happens when Google translate is used in series to translate that sentence through multiple languages

Language Sentence
English A mouse is in the house
Japanese 家の中にネズミがいる Uchinonaka ni nezumi ga iru
Spanish Hay una rata en la casa
Latin Est in domo rat a
Chinese 它是在大鼠 Tā shì zài dà shǔ
Eperanto Ĝi estas en rato
English It’s in a rat

Translated from English to Japanese to Spanish to … to English.


ie. one reason Google Translate sucks, because computers can’t understand “it” in many sentences without understanding what the nouns actually are.