How to read temperature in Japanese

How to read temperature in Japanese

Numerals are easy to understand, so we often don’t think of the sound until we get asked to read it out loud.

The proper word for “decimal point” in Japanese is 小数点しょうすうてん but when it’s used in a number, we read it as just てん and temperature is normally measured with Celsius in Japan, so ℃ is usually just . That makes it possible to read 36.3 ℃ in the picture above as 三十六さんじゅうろくてんさん, which is not wrong but …

Talking about 体温たいおん (body temperature)

If we are talking about a body temperature, most people will read it as 三十六さんじゅうろくさん. This (please note it’s read as ぶ, not ぶん) is the unit for one-tenth of 1.

Similar usage to this is:

レポートはどおりできあがっていた。The report was almost (literally 90%) finished.

Talking about 気温きおん (atmospheric temperature)

However, if we are talking about atmospheric temperature, it can be different. According to the article whose link is given below, a survey conducted in the year 2000 showed that 60% of the participants read it as 三十六さんじゅうろくさん and that most people who read it as 三十六さんじゅうろくてんさんwere younger people. It could mean that these days, 23 years after the survey, more people prefer 三十六さんじゅうろくてんさん and the article mentions that some people claim that 三十六さんじゅうろくさん refers to a body temperature only and they feel uneasy when they hear 三十六さんじゅうろくさん being used for an atmospheric temperature.

Reference: https://www.nhk.or.jp/bunken/summary/kotoba/kotobax3/pdf/075.pdf

By the way, a thermometer in general is called 温度おんどけい but a thermometer for body temperatures is called 体温たいおんけい.

Other Expression relating to Body Temperature

ねつfever, a body temperature higher than usual
ねつがあるto have a fever, to be feverish
ねつ(for a person) to become feverish, to run a temperature
へいねつthe normal temperature
こうねつa high fever, a high temperature
ねつがるfor a fever to go down
ねつはかto take one’s temperature

摂氏せっし and 華氏かし

Earlier I said ℃ is usually just but if you want to emphasise “Celsius,” we use the word 摂氏せっし before the number (i.e. 摂氏せっし三十六さんじゅうろくてんさん ).

If it’s Fahrenheit, that would be 華氏かし三十六さんじゅうろくてんさん.

I hope you have found this article interesting!

For more JLPT N5 Grammar and Vocab, please visit this page.

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One thought on “How to read temperature in Japanese

  1. Reply
    21 January 2023 at 1:11 pm

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