Counters are one of the harder parts of Japanese to truly master. At a cafe, you order “二杯のコーヒーと一個のスコーン”; maybe you have 猫三匹 and 二人の姉妹 in your family. I actually just had a lengthy conversation about whether a rolled-up sweater was still 一枚 or if it qualified as 一本. For those looking to improve your knowledge of counters and impress your friends, Tofugu has just posted a new guide to counters in Japanese:
After you’ve learned the more basic Japanese counters, it ends up coming down to experience if you want to use them correctly after that. Sadly, most of this experience comes over a very long period of time. You see a thing, you see someone count that thing, and then you get a little closer. There just isn’t a resource out there that shows the counter with a list of things that can be counted in this way. I’m hoping to fix that with this guide.
The guide lists all the major counters, as well as which animals, objects, actions, and ideas can be used for each. The list is quite extensive, covering everything from dogs (匹匹) and azuki beans (粒) to skewers (串) and lumps (塊). Check it out on Tofugu‘s “How To Count Anything In Japanese.”