Hello everyone and welcome to another JapaBit!
One thing you will, at one time or another, find yourself having to talk about in any language is percentages. This post will cover the basics of talking about percentages in Japanese!
Before discussing the percentages though, let’s make sure everyone understand this kanji 分（ふん）which could mean “minute(s)” or “parts/sections.” For our discussion here, we will be using the latter meaning “parts/sections” only, which will always be pronounced ぶん in this context.
The counting will start from two parts, i.e.
I think when learners of Japanese first come across the Japanese way of talking about percentages they get a little confused. Beyond the initial phase, the logic is pretty easy to understand.
The logic is to say the total number of parts first, then the amount you actually want to point out.
The most common ones are going to be the following, which regardless of how many parts you have, will always be said this way:
Notice how the meaning literally translates to “one of two parts” for half, “one of three parts” for third, and “one of four parts” for quarter, respectively. This does not mean the thing you are talking about only has two, three, or four parts. It is just a general way of referring to portions. So if you have a pizza with 8 slices, you will not say
One tenth, seven eights, etc.
Aside from the general terms, but following the same logic, you can refer to other fractions such as 1/10 or 7/8 by again saying the total number possible (in this case 10 and 8 respectively), then the amount you want to point out (1 and 7 respectively).
Keep in mind that the numbers come in the opposite order from English and I think you will have no problems!
Saying Percents Directly
Aside from using the general terms above to talk about portions, you can just literally say the percent in Japanese by saying any number you want and the word パーセント after.
10パーセント (10%)、25パーセント (25%)、37パーセント (37%)、100パーセント(100%) etc.
This is the most straightforward way and you cannot go wrong using it.
It is very straightforward as the examples below will show:
You can think of 割 in this case as literally “-0%” meaning whatever number comes before it gets a “zero” and “percent” added to it.
Let us not forget our decimal numbers!
When you have something like 25.7% and want to say it outloud in Japanese, you will simply say てん for the “point” and read the rest of the numbers as usual. Examples examples:
25.7% = にじゅうご-てん-ななパーセント
64.2% = ろくじゅうよん-てん-にパーセント
You get the point… (no pun intended)
I put a little dash just to clearly show where the てん (point) comes.
Finally, some example sentences:
My favorite apparel brand is having a 20% off sale on all items today.
There will be a 50% increase in the people coming tonight because that famous idol will be coming.
People from all over the world attended our 50th anniversary party, but Japanese people were no more than 10 percent (1 / 10th) of the total.
More than 90% of Japan’s junior high students go on to high school, and around half of the high school students go on to university.
A quarter of what was supposed to be my birthday cake in the fridge is gone.
I hope you found this post helpful and that it shed some light on percentages in Japanese because it could be very confusing.
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