Lesson 04: Basic Numbers



In this lesson, you will be introduced to numbers. We use numbers for so many things, such as telling ages, telling time, counting, and pricing. Japanese often uses the Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3…) when writing ages, dates, and prices, but it is still helpful to understand how to write Japanese numbers in kanji (as well as pronounce them in Japanese, even when they are written in the Arabic style).


In this lesson

– Japanese numbers 0-100

– Telling your age

– Telling your phone number

– Homework and answer key


Japanese Numbers 0-100


Look at the table below. This table will teach you how to write Japanese numbers 0 through 30. After you have the pattern down, you will be able to figure out numbers 31-99 on your own. 100 is also listed in this table since it is the first number that breaks the pattern.


Number Kanji Hiragana/Katakana
0 N/A ゼロ
1 いち
3 さん
4 よん
6 ろく
7 なな
8 はち
9 きゅう
10 じゅう
11 十一 じゅういち
12 十二 じゅうに
13 十三 じゅうさん
14 十四 じゅうよん
15 十五 じゅうご
16 十六 じゅうろく
17 十七 じゅうなな
18 十八 じゅうはち
19 十九 じゅうきゅう
20 二十 にじゅう
21 二十一 にじゅういち
22 二十二 にじゅうに
23 二十三 にじゅうさん
24 二十四 にじゅうよん
25 二十五 にじゅうご
26 二十六 にじゅうろく
27 二十七 にじゅうなな
28 二十八 にじゅうはち
29 二十九 にじゅうきゅう
30 三十 さんじゅう
100 ひゃく


As you can see, the pattern is fairly simple. In order to make two digit numbers that are in the teens, you simple place the character for TEN in front of the other numbers. Once you get to 20, you place the character for TWO and TEN in front of the other digit. The same goes for 30, 40, 50, and all the way up to the 90s. Once you get to 100, the number changes.


It is good to know the numbers 0-100, but you should also be able to recognize symbols of higher numbers too. For now, don’t worry about being able to make every number with these kinds of symbols. Just look at the image below so you can become familiar with the kanji.



How to Say Your Age


Look at the conversation below to learn how to tell someone your age.







A: Tanaka-san, how old are you?

B: I am 36 years old. How old are you?

A: I am 18 years old.


In order to tell someone your age, you simply take that number as you would normally say it in Japanese and add さい after it. The exception to this rule is the number 20. This age is special in Japan, so it has a different name. If you want to say “I’m 20 years old,” you have to say “わたしははたちです.”


How to Give Your Phone Number

The Japanese word for phone is でんわ. The phrase that means phone number is でんわばんごう. If you want to ask someone for his or her phone number, you would say でんわばんごうはなんばんですか。


When you tell someone your number, you should say each number individually. Where there is a dash in the phone number, you would say の. This lesson will use a random American phone number as an example. Keep in mind that Japanese phone numbers are structured differently than Western ones. Look at this conversation to see how to ask for and give telephone numbers.






A:五五五の九二三のゼロ九八七です。 (ごごごのきゅうにさんのゼロきゅうはちなな)

B: 五五五の九二三のゼロ九八七ですか。





A: Tanaka-san, what is your phone number?

B: It is 555-385-8759.

A: 555-385-8759? Thank you!

B: Yes. What is your phone number?

A: It is 555-923-0987.

B: 555-923-0987?

A: Yes, that is correct.

B: Got it.



Section 1: The pictures below are all of dice. Write the number being shown (add the dice together and write the number in Japanese!)


Section 2: Write out the following phone numbers in Japanese as you would say it to someone.

  1. 384-573-9488
  2. 239-991-0283
  3. 834-556-7829


Section 3: Answer the following questions. If you do not know the answer to one of them or do not have the family members that the questions ask about, make up a number. Check your answers by looking within the lesson, since this section can’t be in the answer key.








Answer Key

Section 1:

  1.  十
  2.  五
  3.  十一
  4.  十五
  5.  七


Section 2:

  1. 三八四の五七三の九四八八
  2. 二三九の九九一のゼロ二八三
  3. 八三四の五五六の七八二九

Lesson 03: Basic Phrases


Now that you have the basics of hiragana and katakana down, you can start learning some basic words, phrases, and sentence structures. Remember to keep practicing both alphabets and to do the homework assignment at the end of this lesson! It will help you retain what you learn!


In this lesson

– Basic phrases

– Basic sentence structure

– Homework assignment and answer key


Basic Phrases

In the table below are some very basic Japanese phrases, words, and greetings. Study them until you feel comfortable speaking them and writing them. The lessons from here on out will not give you any Romaji, so you must remember hiragana and katakana! Sometimes, you will be asked to Romanize certain words or phrases. This is for making sure you understand hiragana and katakana and retain them!


Japanese (にほんご) English (えいご)
おはようございます Good morning
こんにちは Good afternoon
こんばんは Good evening
おやすみなさい Good night
はじめまして Nice to meet you/How do you do?
どぞよろしく Pleased to meet you/please treat me kindly.
はい Yes
いいえ No
わたしは … I am …
おげんきですか。 How are you?
はい、げんきです。 I am well.

As you can see in the chart above, there is a greeting for each time of the day. When someone says this greeting to you, you can return it by saying the same one, depending on what time of day it is.


Look at the following short conversation to understand how the rest of the phrases are used. There is an English translation of the conversation following the Japanese.


A: こんにちは!

B: こんにちは!はじめまして。わたしはふじわらたけしです。どぞよろしく。

A: はじめまして。わたしはたかなかけいすけです。どぞよろしく。おげんきですか。

B: はい、げんきです。あなたは?

A: げんきです。



English translation:

A: Good afternoon!

B: Good afternoon. Nice to meet you. I am Fujiwara Takeshi. Please treat me well.

A: Nice to meet you. I am Takanaka Keisuke. Please treat me well. How are you?

B: I am well. And you?

A: I am fine.



From the above conversation, you can see how basic introductions are made using はじめまして, わたしは, and どぞよろしく. You can also see that there are usually no question marks in Japanese. The question particle か takes care of this, so you can just use a period. There is a question mark after あなたは because it is not a complete sentence and therefore does not have the particle か attached to it. In conversation, one would simply raise the tone of their voice when asking a question like this. In writing, the question mark is not necessary, but it is added here for clarification.


Basic Sentence Structure


The most basic sentence structure you will work with in Japanese is the X は Y です form. This is how you say “X is Y.” は is a particle that marks the subject of the sentence while です is a verb that means “to be.”


You can use this sentence form with わたしは that you saw above. For example, you can say “I am _____” and put your name where the blank is.


Example: わたしはななはらけいたです。 (I am Keita Nanahara).


Keep in mind that in Japanese, the surname always comes first! Japanese is also different from English because the verb always goes last. Japanese sentences function in subject, object, verb form instead of subject, verb, object form like English does.


Check out the sentence form in the below paragraph. You will learn how to make sentences like this as we learn more.




The above sentences say, “I am Yasuko Kumoto. I am 23 years old. I am a college student. My major is history.”


Notice that not each sentence begins with わたしは. This is because the subject in Japanese is often understood. Therefore, you can sometimes leave off the わたしは or whatever the subject may be, provided that your listener knows what you are referring to. It can get really repetitive to say わたしは over and over again.



Section 1: Write a short dialogue using the phrases you learned in this lesson. If you want to add extra words, feel free to use a Japanese dictionary.


Section 2: Write the following English phrases in Japanese (hiragana).

  1. Good night.
  2. How are you?
  3. Please treat me well.
  4. Good evening.
  5. I am well.


Section 3: Look at the pictures below. Write what Japanese phrase you think best goes with each picture. (Use your imagination!)







Section 4: Translate the following into English.

  1. わたしは30さいです。
  2. わたしはがくせいです。
  3. わたしはちなつです。
  4. わたしはげんきです。
  5. わたしのせんもんはれきしがくです。

Answer Key


Section 2:

  1.  おやすみなさい
  2.  おげんきですか。
  3.  どぞよろしく
  4. こんばんは
  5. げんきです。

Section 3:

  1. おはようございます
  2. こんにちは
  3. おやすみなさい
  4. はじめまして

Section 4:

  1. I am 30 years old.
  2. I am a student.
  3. I am Chinatsu.
  4. I am well.
  5. My major is history.

Lesson 02: Katakana



Now that you have learned hiragana, it is time to move on to the other kana alphabet: katakana! You’ll need a sheet of paper for practice! And remember, just keep drawing out the symbols until you have them memorized. You’ll be reading katakana in no time.


In This Lesson

–          What is Katakana?

–          Transliteration

–          How to read and write Katakana

–          Homework assignment and answer key


What is Katakana?


Katakana is one of the two Japanese alphabets. It is syllabic, just like hiragana, so the symbols work the same way. The difference between hiragana and katakana is that katakana is used only for “loan words.” Loan words are foreign words that have been adopted into the Japanese language (such as , Romanized as コーラko-ra, from English and Romanized as アルバイトarubaito, from German). There are thousands of loan words in Japanese. A lot of them come from English, but many of them are from different languages. Katakana lets you know that the word is not a native Japanese word.




There are katakana symbols for every hiragana symbol, so you transliterate them the same way. Below there is a table with the symbols in it. Use this just like you did the hiragana charts! The one different between transliterating hiragana and katakana is that katakana sometimes has a –in a word. This means that the vowel that this line follows is a long vowel. When you transliterate it into romaji, you can either leave the line or write two vowels out. (Ex: コーラRomanized as ko-ro or koora). In pronunciation, this line means that you draw out the vowel sound a bit.



How to Write Katakana


Use the tables below like you did for hiragana! Study each set and practice writing them until you are familiar with them. Move through each set this way.


Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5


Set 6 Set 7 Set 8 Set 9 Set 10

Once you have mastered the above basic katakana, move on to this chart. Like hiragana, katakana can be changed slightly by adding a small circle or two lines to the top right corner. Here are the modified katakana.



Finally, check out the modified syllables below. These work like the hiragana symbols to make different sounds. Note how the second symbol is always written smaller than the first syllable. This is how you know to make the modified sound when reading katakana.

Also note that, just like in hiragana, the small ツ symbol may appear smaller next to another symbol. This means that you double that consonant, like in hiragana!




Like you practiced hiragana, you will need to practice katakana. You will definitely use hiragana more often, but that is no excuse to forget katakana! Practice writing the symbols over and over again until you have them memorized. The homework assignments below will aide you in your study!




Section 1: Print out the worksheets from this website and practice writing the katakana symbols. Click Here.


Section 2: Transliterate the following katakana into romaji. Then see if you can write the English translation of the word. Answers are in the Answer Key at the end of this lesson. Don’t peek!

  1. シャワー
  2.  バス
  3. ケーキ
  4. カメラ
  5. コーヒー
  6. コーラ
  7. アルバイト
  8. デパート
  9. スーパー
  10. コンピューター
  11. ドア
  12. クラス
  13. テスト
  14. スポーツ
  15. サッカー
  16. テレビ
  17. コンビニ
  18. テニス
  19. ゲーム
  20. アメリカ


Section 3: Write the katakana for the word the picture is demonstrating.

















Answer Key

Section 2:

  1. Shyawa-           shower
  2. Basu                bus
  3. Ke-ki               cake
  4. Kamera           camera
  5. Ko-hi-             coffee
  6. Ko-ra              cola/soda
  7. Arubaito         part-time job
  8. Depa-to          department store
  9. Su-pa-            supermarket
  10. Konpyuta-       computer
  11. Doa                door
  12. Kurasu            class
  13. Tesuto            test
  14. Supo-tsu         sports
  15. Sakka-            soccer
  16. Terebi            television
  17. Konbini          convenience store
  18. Tenisu           tennis
  19. Ge-mu           game
  20. Amerika         America


Section 3

  1. コンピューター
  2. コーラ
  3. バス
  4. アメリカ
  5. テニス


Image Credits: One, Two, Three

Lesson 01: Hiragana



Welcome to your first ever Japanese lesson! Get out a sheet of paper and a pencil, because we are going to dive right in! Since this is your first lesson, you may need to repeat it several times until you get the hang of it. If you do need to repeat, don’t worry! It isn’t a bad thing. You need to be thorough in order to learn a language.


In this Lesson


In this opening lesson, you will learn:

–          What hiragana and kana are

–          What romaji is

–          What transliteration is

–          How to transliterate (also known as “Romanize”) Japanese hiragana

–          How to read and write hiragana

–          Homework assignment and answer key


What are Hiragana and Kana


Japanese has three writing systems, two of which are syllabic. These two writing systems are collectively called kana. The first one you will learn (here in this lesson) is called hiragana. The second one, which you will learn later, is called katakana.

The symbols of hiragana are fairly simple to read and write. All you have to do is memorize the symbols, kind of like an alphabet. Hiragana is a little bit different from an alphabet, though, because each character can stand for one to three letters. Each character will always stand for a syllable, regardless of if it stands for one, two, or three letters.

All Japanese words can be written with hiragana alone. This makes it easy for beginning students to read even the most complex Japanese sentences. You will be able to read the sentences even if you do not know what they translate to!




Romaji simply refers to the letters used to write English (and many European) words. The alphabet A-Z is romaji. All Japanese words can be turn into romaji. The only real purpose for this is to help non-Japanese speakers (as well as beginner students) read complicated Japanese symbols. All three of Japan’s writing systems can be turned into romaji.

You can use romaji while you are a beginner student, but it is not recommended that you keep using it. Don’t get hooked on the romaji! Japanese people do not write with romaji—it is only there as a crutch until you can read hiragana and katakana!

Even though you should not get attached to romaji, it is still important to learn how to turn Japanese text into romaji. This skill will aide you greatly as you begin to learn Japanese!




Transliteration (or Romanization) is what we call the change of Japanese text to romaji. This means that you take a set of Japanese characters and write them in the A-Z alphabet, mimicking the sounds that the Japanese syllables make.


How to Transliterate Hiragana to Romaji


Below you will learn how to read and write hiragana. To do this, you will be shown an image of the hiragana symbol as well as the romaji letters that correspond to that symbol. To transliterate a passage of text, you must replace the Japanese hiragana symbol with the romaji letters. You will get to practice this below.


Reading and Writing Hiragana


Look at the sets of hiragana below. Practice writing them while paying attention to the stroke order and the romaji symbols that correspond to each hiragana. After you have a good grasp on the first set, move on to the next set, and so on until you have worked through each set. There are homework problems with an answer key after this lesson!


Set 1 Set 2 Set 3 Set 4 Set 5


Set 6 Set 7 Set 8 Set 9 Set 10


After you have all of these sets down, it is time to move on to the modified hiragana. Some of the rows can be modified with a small circle or two small lines placed at the top right corner beside the symbol. Study the chart below to understand these symbols and their romaji equivalents.




After you have mastered these, move on to the double hiragana symbols. These hiragana combine two symbols, one written as the normal size and one written smaller beside it, to make new sounds.




Finally, once you have mastered this chart as well, you have learned all of the hiragana symbols and combinations. You will need to keep writing and reading these over and over again until you commit them to memory. If it helps, play hiragana games online to help you remember them!


*Note for transliteration and hiragana pronunciation


When you see a small つ character beside another syllable, all that means is you double the consonant that comes after the つ symbol. For example, in the word がっきょう you would write gakkou as the romaji. In the word いっしょに, you would write isshoni for the romaji. During pronunciation, you leave a very small, slight pause when this symbol occurs.

The symbol は is sometimes pronounced as “wa.” This occurs when you use は as a subject particle in a sentence and when you say the words こんにちは (Pronounced konnichiwa, and can be Romanized either way) and こんばんは(pronounced konbanwa and Romanized either way).




Section 1: Practice writing all of the hiragana symbols until you have them memorized! You can use the worksheets on this website to help you learn! Click Here!


Section 2: Transliterate the following hiragana into the correct romaji. Answers are in the answer key at the end of this lesson.


  1. いきます


  1.  わたし


  1.  ねこ


  1.  いってきます


  1.  ありがとう


  1.  こんにちは


  1.  おげんき


  1.   としょかん


  1.  みる


  1.  あなた


Section 3: Transliterate the following romaji symbols into the correct hiragana symbols. Answers are in the answer key at the end of this lesson.


  1. Konbanwa


  1. Tabemasu


  1. Gakkou


  1. Itte imasu


  1. Takai


  1. Yuukuri


  1. Hara


  1. Yumi


  1. Nomu


  1. Gozaimasu




Answer Key


Section 2:


  1. ikimasu


  1. watashi


  1. neko


  1. ittekimasu


  1. arigatou


  1. konnichiwa


  1. ogenki


  1. toshokan


  1. miru


  1. anata


Section 3:


  1. こんばんは


  1. たべます


  1.  がっこう


  1.  いっています


  1.  たかい


  1.  ゆうくり


  1.  はら


  1.  ゆみ


  1.  のむ


  1.  ございます




Image Credits: One, Two, Three