Grammar Info

N4 Lesson 5: 14/20

(なん) + (Counter) + か

Some, Several, A few


(なん) + Counter +
いく + Counter +


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About なん + counter + か

The expression なん + counter + in Japanese is a way of highlighting an uncertain number of something, and comes across similarly to 'some', 'several', or 'a few' in English. Literally, the meaning is much closer to 'what + counter + I wonder?', as it shows the speaker's uncertainty about the number.
  • そこ(なん)(かい)()たことがある(おも)
    I think I have been there several times.
  • ごめん、(かみ)(なん)(まい)ちょうだい。
    Sorry, may I have some paper?
In addition to なん; いく, from the kanji (いく) (how many/much) may be used as part of this construction. While both are fairly common, (いく) is more common as part of set expressions, like (いく) (how much) and (いく) (how many/old), while なん is more common for counting specific things, like people.
  • この(くるま)いくらです
    How much is this car?
  • マリちゃん(いく)になっ
    How old did Mari-chan turn?
Both (なん) and (いく) are regularly seen in plain hiragana and their kanji forms, so it is worth remembering both.
Despite having the same kanji as (なに), なん will almost always be used to count things, while なに will be used to identify things.
  • いらない(ほん)何冊(なんさつ)(いもうと)あげた。
    I gave several books that I didn't need to my sister.
  • (まえ)何者(なにもの)
    Who are you! (What kind of person are you)




    Some athletes were wounded.


    Some books were piled on the floor like a mountain.


    I sent some high grade tree trunks to the sawmill.


    He was ordered to pet several (some) cats.


    I am glad that I was able to take a few photos of them.

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なん + counter + か – Grammar Discussion

Most Recent Replies (7 in total)

  • CrisH


    I’d like to know as well - it doesn’t allow いく in
    but I can’t tell why not.

  • Manab


    I’m a little confused. I have found some sites saying thay these counter expressions can’t follow が because they don’t work like nouns.

    For example:


    Shouldn’t it be このアニメを何話か見たと思う or このアニメの何話か見たと思う without を at all?

  • Daru


    Hey guys!

    I’m guessing you’re trying to answer いくさつか?It’s because of nuance.

    なん is almost always used to count, whereas いく is more often used in set expressions. It’s not wrong in the sense that its ungrammatical, it’s just so uncommon you’d probably make heads turn.

    You’re much better off just using the set expressions (いくら、いくつ…) when it contextually makes the most sense to.


    Could you link me to the site? I w...

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