Numbers are the foundation of language and we use them constantly in our daily lives. In China, the numbers used are divided into Chinese and Arabic numbers, and Chinese numbers are further divided into upper and lower cases. In order to standardize the use of numbers, China has clarified the respective usage of Arabic numbers and Chinese numbers.
This article will give you a complete guide on Chinese numbers from 0 to 100+ and will also teach you how to use numbers in daily life, such as introducing your age, giving phone numbers, saying dates, etc. I promise you’ll know how to talk about numbers like a Chinese native by the end of this article! Now it might be a bit long, so bookmark it first if you wish to read it later.
Are you ready? Then let’s start with 0-10!
Chinese Numbers 0 to 10
The trick to learning most Chinese numbers is to master 0-10!
First of all, there are actually three ways to write 0 in Chinese – namely the Arabic numeral “0”, the Chinese character lowercase “O” and the Chinese character uppercase “零(líng)”. Each 0 has its own specific use and should not be used interchangeably.
The zero in Chinese can be used to link two number units, similar to the way we use “and” in English. For example, instead of saying “one thousand and two hundred”, the Chinese people say 一千零二百 (yì qiān líng èr bǎi), which literally means “one thousand and two hundred”.
When it comes to the numbers 1, 2, and 3, remembering them is quite simple.
One horizontal stroke 一 (yī) means 1
Two horizontal strokes 二 (èr) means 2
Three horizontal strokes 三 (sān) means 3!
Easy, right? Counting is probably one of the easiest parts of learning Chinese! It’s very predictable and logical just like English ones. But remember, as the Chinese language doesn’t have articles like a, an, and the, the number 一 (yī) is often used as an article and it’s pronounced differently such as 一万 (yíwàn, 10 thousand)、一千(yìqiān, one thousand). So don’t trust any source that tells you the pronunciation of “一” never changes!
However, 4-10 are not as simple as just horizontal lines! You’ll have to memorize the table below and try to use them as much as possible. You can also use LingoDeer App to practice the strokes of these Chinese letters!
Chinese Numbers 11 to 100
11-20 is easy. Once you know 1-10, you’ll know how to write 11-100! They all work by adding numbers together.
|21||二十一||Èr shí yī|
|22||二十二||Èr shí èr|
|23||二十三||Èr shí sān|
|24||二十四||Èr shí sì|
|25||二十五||Èr shí wǔ|
|26||二十六||Èr shí liù|
|27||二十七||Èr shí qī|
|28||二十八||Èr shí bā|
|29||二十九||Èr shí jiǔ|
|31||三十一||sān shí yī|
|32||三十二||sān shí èr|
|33||三十三||sān shí sān|
|34||三十四||sān shí sì|
|35||三十五||sān shí wǔ|
|36||三十六||sān shí liù|
|37||三十七||sān shí qī|
|38||三十八||sān shí bā|
|39||三十九||sān shí jiǔ|
|41||四十一||sì shí yī|
|42||四十二||sì shí èr|
|43||四十三||sì shí sān|
|44||四十四||sì shí sì|
|45||四十五||sì shí wǔ|
|46||四十六||sì shí liù|
|47||四十七||sì shí qī|
|48||四十八||sì shí bā|
|49||四十九||sì shí jiǔ|
|51||五十一||wǔ shí yī|
|52||五十二||wǔ shí èr|
|53||五十三||wǔ shí sān|
|54||五十四||wǔ shí sì|
|55||五十五||wǔ shí wǔ|
|56||五十六||wǔ shí liù|
|57||五十七||wǔ shí qī|
|58||五十八||wǔ shí bā|
|59||五十九||wǔ shí jiǔ|
|61||六十一||liù shí yī|
|62||六十二||liù shí èr|
|63||六十三||liù shí sān|
|64||六十四||liù shí sì|
|65||六十五||liù shí wǔ|
|66||六十六||liù shí liù|
|67||六十七||liù shí qī|
|68||六十八||liù shí bā|
|69||六十九||liù shí jiǔ|
|71||七十一||qī shí yī|
|72||七十二||qī shí èr|
|73||七十三||qī shí sān|
|74||七十四||qī shí sì|
|75||七十五||qī shí wǔ|
|76||七十六||qī shí liù|
|77||七十七||qī shí qī|
|78||七十八||qī shí bā|
|79||七十九||qī shí jiǔ|
|81||八十一||bā shí yī|
|82||八十二||bā shí èr|
|83||八十三||bā shí sān|
|84||八十四||bā shí sì|
|85||八十五||bā shí wǔ|
|86||八十六||bā shí liù|
|87||八十七||bā shí qī|
|88||八十八||bā shí bā|
|89||八十九||bā shí jiǔ|
|91||九十一||jiǔ shí yī|
|92||九十二||jiǔ shí èr|
|93||九十三||jiǔ shí sān|
|94||九十四||jiǔ shí sì|
|95||九十五||jiǔ shí wǔ|
|96||九十六||jiǔ shí liù|
|97||九十七||jiǔ shí qī|
|98||九十八||jiǔ shí bā|
|99||九十九||jiǔ shí jiǔ|
Large Chinese Numbers
If you already know 1-100, the numbers that follow shouldn’t be too hard. You already know how it works! The only difference is that you need to use the number 0 sometimes!
When you say 101-109, you have to add a 0 after a hundred. If you don’t, it becomes another number entirely. Same for 200, 300, and so on. Let me give you some examples.
一百零一 (yì bǎi líng yī) – “one hundred and one ”
一百一 (yì bǎi yī) – “one hundred and ten”
一百零二 (yì bǎi líng èr) – “one hundred and two ”
一百二 (yì bǎi èr) – “one hundred and twenty ”
Now you must have noticed the tone of 一 (yī) is changed to yì. Don’t worry, it only happens occasionally with the number 一 (yī). We’ll explain that later.
From 110, there are two different ways you can say a number. But the first one is often used in spoken Chinese.
一百一(十) (yì bǎi yī (shí)) – “one hundred and ten”
三百二(十) (sān bǎi èr (shí)) – “three hundred and twenty”
The concept of hundreds and tens is the same as that of adding different numbers together:
Chinese Numbers 1,000 & Above
How to Use Numbers in Chinese
After you learn 1 to 10, it’s much easier to tell someone your phone number! In China, phone numbers always start with 1. Note that the number one in phone numbers must be pronounced 幺(yāo) in order to avoid confusion with 7 (qi), which sounds similar to 1 (yī). Another difference is that in English, we sometimes combine two or even three numbers together, such as thirty-five or triple zero.In Chinese phone numbers, the numbers are always spoken individually.
Let’s try it out!
If your cell phone number is 13699802345, we can simply pronounce the corresponding numbers: yāo, sān, liù, jiǔ, jiǔ, bā, líng, èr, sān, sì, wǔ.
Now it’s time to teach you how to tell dates using numbers. Let’s start with some Chinese that we’ll need to use.
年(nián) – year
月(yuè) – month
日(rì) available in both writing and speaking)/号(hào) only in spoken Chinese – date
What you need to remember is that in Chinese, people usually say dates in year/month/date order.
Here are the examples:
Today is October 4, 2020.
(jīn tiān shì èr líng èr líng nián shí yuè sì rì/hào)
My birthday is April 3, 1998.
(wǒ de shēng rì shì yī jiǔ jiǔ bā nián sì yuè sān rì/hào)
Chinese Internet Slangs using Numbers
666 (liùliùliù) – 666 is used to praise someone or something for doing a good job.
233 (èrsānsān) – Similar to “LOL” in English, 233 is used to express laughter. An extended version can be “2333” or even “23333333…”.
555 (wǔwǔwǔ) – A mimic of the sound of crying in Chinese (呜呜呜).
520 (wǔ’èr líng) – A homophone for “I love you” in Mandarin Chinese, used to express love or affection.
1314 (yī sān yī sì)– A homophone for “forever” or “lifetime” in Chinese, used to express love or affection.
88 (bābā) – Sounds like “拜拜”, meaning “goodbye”.
The use of Ordinal Numbers is very simple! You just need to add the Chinese character 第(dì) before the number. You can see it as the prefix of numbers to indicate order. For example,
She is the first one to arrive at the station.
(tā shì dì yī gè dào chēzhàn de)
|第一 (dìyī)||第六 (dìliù)|
|第二 (dìèr)||第七 (dìqī)|
|第三 (dìsān)||第八 (dìbā)|
|第四 (dìsì)||第九 (dìjiǔ)|
|第五 (dìwǔ)||第十 (dìshí)|
What to Notice when Using Chinese Numbers
Change in tones
In Mandarin, the four most common tones (四声sìshēng) are:
The first tone – 阴平 (yīn píng), often called 第一声 (dì yī shēng), is stable and flat, meaning it does not rise or fall. It is also often described as a high tone. The word 轻 (qīng; ) is pronounced in the first tone.
The second Tone – 阳平 (yáng píng), often called the second tone (dì èr shēng), is a rising tone. The word 图 (tú; picture, map) is pronounced in the second tone.
The third tone – 上声 (shàng shēng), usually called the third tone (dì sān shēng) – is most commonly taught as a descending tone followed by a rising tone, as in 煮 (zhǔ; boil, cook).
The fourth Tone – 去声 (qù shēng), often referred to as the fourth tone (dì sì shēng), is a falling tone. The word 去 (qù; go) is pronounced in the fourth tone.
Apart from writing and speaking, Chinese people also use finger counting – hand gestures that signify numbers 1 to 10.
4 (sì) – is considered unlucky because of the similarity in pronunciation between 4 and the word 死( sǐ; death) in Chinese. It is a taboo number, just like 13 in Western countries. Usually, you will see the number 4 replaced by the English capital F or just skipped in many elevators in China.
38(sān bā) – It used to have a derogatory meaning in Chinese, referring to a person (usually women) who often meddles in other people’s affairs. In recent years, however, this term is used less often as feminist movements gain popularity and more people realize the term actually comes from Women’s Day (March 8th). Some people even proudly say they are 38 on social media, surprisingly changing the meaning of the term to something neutral or even positive.
250 (Èrbǎiwǔ) – it refers to a person who is stupid, ignorant, and stubborn. It is a number with a long history; people have been using it to curse others since the late Qing Dynasty. You don’t want to use it, and you certainly don’t want to hear people saying it to you.
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