Lesson 3.2

Dialogue 2 Headphones

Michael finds an interesting apartment listing.

Michael: Juu-go-ban wa ikura desu ka.How much is number 15?



Honda : Rokuman-nanasen-en desu.It’s ¥67,000.



Warukunai desu yo.That’s not bad, you know.



Michael: Motto yasui no wa arimasen nee.There isn’t one that’s cheaper, is there.



Honda: Chotto muzukashii desu nee.That would be a little difficult, wouldn’t it.


Vocabulary Headphones

juugo じゅうご十五 fifteen

ban ばん番 (ordinal) number

juugo-ban じゅうごばん十五番 number fifteen

ikura いくら how much?

rokuman ろくまん六万 60,000

nanasen ななせん七千 7000

en えん円 yen (currency of Japan)

rokuman-nanasen-en ろくまんななせんえん六万七千円 ¥67,000

warui わるい悪い bad

waruku nai わるくない悪くない not bad

motto もっと more

motto yasui もっとやすいもっと安い cheaper

no の one(s)

muzukashii むずかしい難しい difficult, hard

doru どるドル dollar

yasashii やさしい easy, kind

Grammar Notes

3-2-1 Numbers and Classifiers (~en, ~doru, ~ban)

Japanese numbers are listed at the end of this lesson. Note that numbers 4, 7 and 9 have alternating forms: yon, yo and shi for 4, nana and shichi for 7 and kyuu and ku for 9. The form depends on what classifier is combined with the number (See below for classifiers).

In Japanese, numbers with five or more places are counted in groups of four places

( ~man, ~oku, ~chou). On the other hand, in English these numbers are counted by groups of threes places (thousands, millions, billions). So, ten thousand in Japanese has a special name man, and succeeding groups of four places have the names ~oku, and ~chou. Traditionally a comma was inserted every four places (10,000 was written 1,0000).

Note that 10, 100 and 1000 do not require ichi, but 10,000 does. In another words, you need to say ichi only for the last place in each four-place group.

1 ichi 10000 ichi-man

10 juu 100000 juu-man

100 hyaku 1000000 hyaku-man

1000 sen 10000000 sen-man

So, ¥11111111 is sen hyaku juu ichi man sen hyaku juu ichi en. Also note the following sound changes.

For 100’s: (hyaku)h→ b 300 sanbyaku; ?00 nanbyaku (how many hundreds?) h→ pp 600 roppyaku; 800 happyaku

For 1000’s: (sen)s→z3000 sanzen; ?000 nanzen (how many thousands?) s→ss8000 hassen

Japanese numbers are usually followed by a classifier, which indicates what is counted or numbered. Use of ‘bare’ numbers is rather limited (counting the number of push-ups, etc.) When counting things in Japanese, numbers are combined with classifiers that are conventionally used for the particular nouns being counted. This is similar to English expressions like “ten sheets of paper” (not ten papers), or “a loaf of bread” (not a bread.)

Recall that the classifier for clock time is –ji, and grade in school is –nensei. We add three more in this lesson: –en for the Japanese currency, –doru for US currency, and –ban for numbers in order (first, second, etc.) Before –ji, 4, 7, and 9 are respectively yo, shichi, and ku. As shown in the chart below, before –en the number 4 is yo, and the numbers 7 and 9 before –en, doru and –ban are nana, and kyuu.

The classifier -ban is also used for ranking (first place, second place, etc.) Ichi-ban is also used as an adverb to mean ‘most’ or ‘best.’ The pitch accent changes for the adverbial use (iCHIban


Ichi-ban jouzu most skillful

Ichi-ban atarashii newest

Ichiban ii daigaku the best college

Table 8. Classifiers for numbers 1-10, as well as an unknown number, for suffixes -en, -doru, and -ban
















































3-2−2Pronoun No

Recall that we have the following three noun phrase structures.

1. Adjective + Noun yasui apaato cheap apartment

2. Kono + Noun kono apaato this apartment

3. Noun no Noun watashi no apaato my apartment

It sounds too wordy and unsophisticated if the same noun is repeated unnecessarily. How can we avoid repeating the main noun in these structures when it is already known from the context?

For Structure 1, replace the noun with the pronoun no. → yasui noinexpensive one For Structure 2, use kore-sore-are-dore, instead.→ korethis

For Structure 3, just drop it.→ watashi no mine

The pronoun no can replace the noun directly after an adjective, but is usually not used to refer to people. These rules hold when the three structures are combined.

kono atarashii apaato this new apartment→ kono atarashii no

watashi no kono kaban this bag of mine→ watashi no kore atarashii Amerika no kaisha new American company→ atarashii Amerika no

3-2-3 ka nee ‘I wonder’

Some sentence particles can occur in combination. One common combination is ka nee ‘I wonder.’ Ka indicates doubt and nee indicates that the speaker assumes the hearer has the same doubt. In the dialogue above, Michael asks if there are cheaper apartments, assuming Ms. Honda understands his situation. Compare the following:

Motto yasui no wa arimasen ka.Aren’t there cheaper ones?

Motto yasui no wa arimasen ka nee. I wonder if there are cheaper ones.

While the first asks for an answer, the second does not demand a response because the speaker assumes that the other person shares the same question. The result is softer. Ka nee is also used as a polite response to a question when the speaker does not know the answer.

Ano hito dare desu ka?Who is that person?

Dare desu ka nee.I wonder, too.

Dare no kasa desu ka?Whose umbrella is it?

Dare no desu ka nee. I wonder whose it is, too.

Drills and Exercises


Cue: Go-en desu ka. Is it five yen? Headphones

Response: Ie-ie, gojuu-en desu yo. No, no, it’s fifty yen!

Cue: Nihyaku-en desu ka. Is it two hundred yen?

Response: Ie-ie, nisen-en desu yo. No, no, it’s two thousand yen!


Cue: Takai desu nee. It’s expensive, isn’t it! Headphones

Response: Ee, motto yasui no wa arimasen nee. Yes, there aren’t any cheaper ones, are there.

Cue: Chiisai desu nee.It’s small, isn’t it!

Response: Ee, motto ookii no wa arimasen nee. Yes, there aren’t any bigger ones, are there.


Cue: Minna, ookii desu nee. They’re all big, aren’t they! Headphones

Response: Ichiban ookii no wa, dore desu ka.Which is the biggest one?

Cue:Minna, furui desu nee.They’re all old, aren’t they! Response: Ichiban furui no wa, dore desu ka.Which is the oldest one?

D. Say it in Japanese.

You’ve been asked the price of something. Reply.

    1. ¥ 650
    2. ¥ 1010
    3. ¥ 14000
    4. ¥790000
    5. ¥ 8800
    6. ¥ 3300
    7. ¥1111

At a meeting, ask what other people think of the following:

    1. a newer company
    2. the more difficult Chinese textbook
    3. the easiest one
    4. the cellphone #13
    5. Prof. Kimura’s new course on Tue-Thur

E. Act in Japanese with a partner.

    1. In a shoe store, you’ve tried on a pair and found them to be too small. Get the attention of a clerk and ask for a little bigger pair.
    2. Browsing an online shopping site, Ms. Honda misread the price of an item as 5000 yen. It is actually 50000 yen. Correct her nicely.
    3. Find out today’s dollar to yen exchange rate.
    4. You are doing a homework assignment. Exclaim that Question #14 is hard. Ask if Ms. Honda gets it.
    5. You’ve been asked for your opinion about an apartment. Mention that it is not bad, but you wonder what the rent is.
    6. With a partner, ask and answer how much something costs. Exchange opinions about the price.




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