Japanese Conversation

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Ordering dishes and drinks at the restaurant

Koohii o kudasai

Kudasai literally means "please give me". This is commonly used when ordering a dish or a drink, or when buying something at a store. Koohii o kudasai means "May I have (a cup of) coffee, please?". O is a particle which follows the object in a sentence and therefore is called the object marker.

object o (number) kudasai
a.Kore o kudasai
I'll take this, please. / May I have this, please?
b.Koohii o futatsu kudasai.
May I have two (cups of) coffee, please?

Hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu"one, two, three"

There are two numerical systems in the Japanese language. The ichi, ni, san system which is introduced in Elementary Japanese Lesson 4, and the hitotsu, futatsu, mittsu system are shown here.

The ichi-system is used with counters such as -ji which indicates the time.
The hitotsu-system is used independently without counters.

The hitotsu-system goes up to 10 and cannot be used for counting people, time or money.

Ichi-system Hitotsu-system
1ichi 1hitotsu
2ni 2futatsu
3san 3mittsu
4shi, yon 4yottsu
5go 5itsutsu
6roku 6muttsu
7shichi, nana 7nanatsu
8hachi 8yattsu
9kyuu 9kokonotsu
10juu 10too

Number counters - Numeral

In the Japanese language, there are (too) many counters depending on the type of object.
For instance, the counter for "chair" is kyaku; "one chair, two chairs": ikkyaku, ni-kyaku. The counter for "cuttlefish" is pai / hai / bai; "one cuttlefish, two cuttlefishes, three cuttlefishes": ippai, ni-hai, san-bai;.

Even Japanese people do not know all the counters used in Japanese. So, the counters often provide questions for quiz shows on TV.

You can use the hitotsu-system without bothering with different counters for different objects, except for people, time and money.

Here are some important counters which are commonly used in daily conversation.

  yen bottles
paper people
1 ichi-en ippon ippai ichi-mai hitori
2 ni-en ni-hon ni-hai ni-mai futari
3 san-en san-bon san-bai san-mai san-nin
4 yo-en yon-hon yon-hai yon-mai yo-nin
5 go-en go-hon go-hai go-mai go-nin
6 roku-en roppon roppai roku-mai roku-nin
7 nana-en nana-hon nana-hai nana-mai shichi-nin/nana-nin
8 hachi-en happon happai hachi-mai hachi-nin
9 kyuu-en kyuu-hon kyuu-hai kyuu-mai kyuu-nin
10 juu-en juppon juppai juu-mai juu-nin
? ikura nan-bon nan-bai nan-mai nan-nin

Arimasu ka?"Do you have?"

Arimasu indicates the existence of non-animated things. Arimasu also refers to "to have" and "to be at".

A:Aisu-tii ga arimasu ka?
B:Hai, arimasu.
A:Do you have iced tea?
B:Yes, we have.

When catering staff and store staff say "Yes, we have" to their customers, they normally use gozaimasu, the honorific form of arimasu, although the meaning is the same.

Aiteimasu ka?

The verb aiteimasu means "to be available" or "to be open". Use this verb when asking if there are any tables available at a restaurant, any seats available on a train or any rooms available at a hotel.

Mata kimasu

The literal translation of this expression is "I will come again.". You walk in a store and see nothing you like but you don't want to offend the store staff by walking out without buying anything... So, you say to them Mata kimasu, "I will come again.".


To means "and" in Japanese. To can be used between two nouns as in piza to pasuta "pizza and pasta". When you connect two sentences, soshite should be used.

Shooshoo omachi kudasai

This is a set phrase meaning "Just a moment, please". This is a polite expression and is often used to customers. Chotto matte kudasai is commonly used among friends or colleagues.

Suimasen vs. Sumimasen"Excuse me"

Sumimasen means "Excuse me" or "I'm sorry". In daily conversation, people normally say suimasen and therefore, at Coscom, we also use suimasen in our materials.

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