Is しち more common than なな for 七?

Doing my Japanese lessons outside of wanikani, I knew both of the meanings, but if I remember なな is more commonly used?


More commonly used, yes. (perhaps)

But there are still things like 七時 which I think is commonly said as しち, but then you have 九時 said as くじ, so maybe it’s more of an hours thing. :thinking:

At least, なな for 七つ is like ふた for 二つ instead of に, the common way to use it as a numeral? :eyes:

When reading phone numbers (does anyone ever do that any more), 七 is always なな.


So wanikani likes introducing on’yomi before kun’yomi?

Kanji is usually read as on’yomi, so WK starts with that (usually). :slight_smile: (Unless it’s vocab, or an exception? (another usually for good measure))

Back during my karate traijing as a child the trainer always used なな to count the reps

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Basically, one is the Chinese origin word (しち) and the other is the Japanese origin word (なな). Which one is used depends on the context, though there are many instances when both are acceptable. The question about which is most common actually isn’t very useful because there are situations where you must use one or the other and you need to memorize those situations or you won’t be able to communicate well. Let’s look at a couple examples.

Counting days.
This is always done with native Japanese numbers. Stating “seven days” is 七日(なのか, note the slight pronunciation change of なな to なの).

Counting objects
This is always done with native numbers. Seven objects is 七つ (ななつ, no sound change).

Specific words
Many individual words simply always take the native number, like 七不思議(ななふしぎ), the seven wonders (of the world).

Time and Months
Time and months almost exclusively use the Chinese origin words, so you get 七月 (しちがつ), July, and 七時 (しちじ), 7 o’clock.

Simple counting
This is the main point when they are interchangeable: when your just listing the numbers, like counting to 30 to play hide and go seek. Usually the switch is acceptable in these cases because the word has a double meaning that people want to avoid. For example, し and よん are interchangeable because し also means “death.” I’ve never heard a specific explanation for why なな and しち are interchangeable, but it might be because しち sounds like 死地, meaning something like “dead land.”


Got it, so later on (level 2) I will most likely re-learn the なな reading?

Yes you will.

My Japanese teacher naturally says し and しち when counting (like counting with her fingers).

And we always use しち to count. And I always wonder why…

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I’ve heard from people who get information over the phone prefer なな because しち can be misheard as いち. For this reason, I use なな when reciting information over the phone.


Yeah it’s usually on’ first unless it’s for example body parts which usually use kun’ in any case.

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