Have you always been confused by Korean numbers? This article will teach you how to count in Korean with both Sino-Korean and native Korea number systems, and everything you need to know about when and how to use these numbers in conversations.
Two Ways to Count 1-10 in Korean
The Korean language has two separate number systems. The first is called the Sino-Korean number system, which is based on Chinese numbers. The other is the native Korean number system. Let’s first take a look at the two sets of 1-10 in Korean. After going through this article, you will not only be familiar with them but also master how to make greater numbers with them as the foundation.
How to Count from 1 to 10 in Korean:
|1||일 il||하나 hana|
|2||이 i||둘 dul|
|3||삼 sam||셋 set|
|4||사 sa||넷 net|
|5||오 o||다섯 daseot|
|6||육 yuk||여섯 yeoseot|
|7||칠 chil||일곱 ilgop|
|8||팔 pal||여덟 yeodeol|
|9||구 gu||아홉 ahop|
|10||십 sip||열 yeol|
Why Do Koreans Use Two Systems for Counting?
Before King Sejong created Hangul in 1443, Koreans had to use Chinese characters for writing, and many Korean words, such as numbers, were influenced by the Chinese language. After Hangul was born, Koreans have developed two number systems with distinct usage over the years.
The two unique number systems reflect Korea’s rich and interesting history.
Counting Large Numbers in Korean (Sino-Korean System)
We will introduce how to count in Korean as Sino-Korean numbers first. You have already seen 1-10 just now, so let us now look at how to count numbers above 10.
Counting 10-99 in Korean with Sino-Korean Numbers
The general rule to form a double-digit number is number + 십(sip) + number, reading the numeral from left to right:
- 24 = 이십사 (two-ten-four)
- 92 = 구십이 (nine-ten-two)
For numbers 11-19, it’s just 십(sip) + number:
- 11 = 십일 (ten-one)
- 16 = 십육 (ten-six)
If the number is the multiples of 10, it’s number + 십(sip):
- 30 = 삼십 (three-ten)
- 90 = 구십 (nine-ten)
Important note: the rules for 10-99 will be used again if you encounter them in larger numbers above 100.
What’s Hundred, Thousand and Ten Thousand in Korean?
The number units 백(baek), 천(cheon), and 만(man) can be used directly for 100, 1000 and 10,000:
- 100 = 백 (baek) means “hundred”
- 1000 = 천(cheon) means “thousand”
- 10,000 = 만(man) means “ten thousand”
Counting 100~999 in Korean (Sino-Korean Numbers)
To form any number between 100~999, the general rule is number + 백 + number+ 십 + number, reading the numeral from left to right:
- 276 = 이백칠십육 (two-hundred-seven-ten-six)
- 412 = 사백십이 (four-hundred-ten-two)
If the number is 100~199, start with 백 directly:
- 113 = 백십삼 (hundred-ten-three)
- 189 = 백팔십구 (hundred-eight-ten-nine_
If the number is multiples of 100 or 10:
- 380 = 삼백필십 (three-hundred-eight-ten)
- 900 = 구백 (nine-hundred)
If the number has 0 in the middle, just skip it:
- 104 = 백사 (hundred-four)
- 908 = 구백팔 (nine-hundred-eight)
Counting 1000~9999 in Korean (Sino-Korean Numbers)
To form a four-digit number, the general rule is number + 천 + number + 백 + number + 십 + number, reading the numeral from left to right. For example:
- 3569 = 삼천오백육십구 (three-thousand-five-hundred-six-ten-nine)
- 8452 = 팔천사백오십이 (eight-thousand-four-hundred-five-ten-two)
If the number is 1000~1999, start with 천 directly:
- 1199 = 천백구십구 (thousand-hundred-nine-ten-nine)
- 1812 = 천팔백십이 (thousand-eight-hundred-ten-two)
If the number is multiples of 1000 or 1000:
- 2000 = 이천 (two-thousand)
- 5400 = 오천사백 (five-thousand-four-hundred)
You can still skip the 0s in the middle of the number:
- 5047 = 오천사십칠 (five-thousand-four-ten-seven)
- 2005 = 이천오 (two-thousand-five)
Counting Above 10,000 in Korean:
To form a five-digit number, the general rule is number + 만 + number + 천 + number + 백 + number + 십 + number, reading the numeral from left to right. For example:
- 67543 = 육만칠천오백사십삼 (six-ten thousand-seven-thousand-five-hundred-four-ten-three)
- 56724 = 오만육천칠백이십사 (five-ten thousand-six-thousand-seven-hundred-two-ten-four)
If the number is 10000~19999, start with 만 directly:
- 15600 = 만오천육백 (ten thousand-five-thousand-six-hundred)
- 13000 = 만삼천 (ten thousand-three-thousand)
If the number is multiples of 10000 or 1000:
- 50000 = 오만 (five-ten thousand)
- 41000 = 사만천 (four-ten thousand-thousand)
You can skip if there is 0 in the middle of the number:
- 30700 = 삼만칠백 (three-ten thousand-seven-hundred)
- 40003 = 사만삼 (four-ten thousand-three)
Counting Above 100,000 in Korean
When we see a large Korean number, we count the number units from right to the left. Take the number in the following picture, 100000000 for example, the digits from the 2nd rightmost position are called 십(sip), 백(baek), 천(cheon), 만(man), 십만(sipman), 백만(baekman), 천만(cheonman) and 억(eok).
만(man) is an important word in Sino-Korean numbers because the Korean number system uses increments of 10,000 rather than 1,000.
For example, the number 1,000,000 is “백만(baekman) hundred – ten thousands” rather than “million”. Similarly, the number 10,000,000 is “천만(cheonman) thousand – ten thousand”, not “ten million”.
The number 100,000,000 has a separate name, 억(eok), which turns into the new increment for the numbers over this one.
Sino-Korean Numbers with Hanja Counters
Sino-Korean numbers are known to have inseparable friendship with some Hanja counters. “Hanja” means that these count words originated from the Chinese language. Here are some common Hanja counters that are used after a Sino-Korean number: 년(nyeon), 월 (wol), 일(il), 분(bun), 초(cho), 원(won), 주일(juil), 층(cheung), and 인분(inbun).
Exercises for Sino-Korean Numbers
Part 1: Try to read the following numerals as Sino-Korean numbers.
Challenge yourself – do not peep the keys!
Part 2: Try to say some phrases containing Sino-Korean numbers.
37 = 삼십칠
70 = 칠십
498 = 사백구십팔
5,500 = 오천오백
60,081 = 육만팔십일
812,345 = 팔십일만이천삼백사십오
1,003,567 = 백만삼천오백육십칠
21,250,000 = 이천백이십오만
934,714,575 = 구억삼천사백칠십일만사천오백칠십오
35,000 won = 삼만오천 원
3 weeks = 삼 주일
Number 100 = 백 번
15th floor = 십오 층
10 servings = 십 인분
How to Count Native Korean Numbers
Congrats! You’ve made it to counting above 10 with the other system: Native Korean system.
Counting up to 99 with Native Korean Numbers
Unlike Sino-Korean numbers, the native Korean numbers have different names for each of the tens, and they are used to create any other number between 20 and 99.
|Numeral||Native Korean Number|
You have already learned how to count from 1 to 10 in native Korean numbers at the beginning of this article. If you want to make a native Korean number from 11 to 19, the rule is: 열(ten) + number between 하나(one) and 아홉 (nine) inclusive. For example:
- 11 = 열하나 (ten-one)
- 18 = 열여덟 (ten-eight)
In native Korean number system, each of the tens has its own name, as shown in the table above. To make native Korean numbers from 20 to 90 which are multiples of tens, you simply use the numbers listed in the table above:
- 20 = 스물 (twenty)
- 40 = 마흔 (forty)
If you want to make native Korean numbers from 21 to 99 excluding multiples of tens, you need to combine a number for the tens and a number between 1 and 9 inclusive. For example, the tens number for 21~29 is 스물 (twenty). To make a number from 21 to 29, the rule is 스물(twenty) + number between 하나(one) and 아홉 (nine) inclusive. For example:
- 25 = 스물다섯 (twenty-five)
- 23 = 스물셋 (twenty-three)
Native Korean numbers from 31 to 99 are made in the same manner. Here are more examples of numbers from 31 to 99:
- 35 = 서른다섯 (thirty-five)
- 43 = 마흔셋 (forty-three)
- 58 = 쉰여덟 (fifty-eight)
- 66 = 예순여섯 (sixty-six)
- 71 = 일흔하나 (seventy-one)
- 89 = 여든아홉 (eighty-nine)
- 94 = 아흔넷 (ninety-four)
Counting above 100 with Native Korean numbers?
The maximum that the native Korean number can reach is 99. For any numbers starting 100, the Sino-Korean number system is used.
Specify Quantities with Native Korean Numbers
The general usage is Noun + Number + Count word in a sentence.
사과 네 개가 있어요.
There are four apples.
Like Hanja counters with Sino-Korean numbers, native Korean numbers are also used with collocative count words to specify quantities of items.
The most common counter is 개(gae), which can be used in most situations when counting items. Here are some more examples: 개(gae), 달(dal), 시(si), 시간(sigan), 명(myeong), 살(sal) and 마리(mari).
Native Korean has five numbers that take a short form before a count word: 하나, 둘, 셋, 넷 and 스물. Here they are, followed by 살 (years old) as examples.
Exercises for Native Korean Numbers
Part 1: Try to read the following numerals as native Korean numbers.
Part 2: Try to read some phrases containing native Korean numbers.
15 = 열다섯
21 = 스물하나
34 = 서른넷
67 = 예순일곱
Four dogs = 강아지 네 마리
Twenty hours = 스무 시간
Nine people = 아홉 명
7 o’clock = 일곱 시
9 months = 아홉 달
When to Use Which Korean Number System
Native Korean numbers are used for quantifying items, expressing age, the hour or counting months. On the other hand, Sino-Korean numbers are used in more specific cases, such as dates, telephone numbers, addresses, and counting days or money.
Asking Number-Related Questions with 몇 and 얼마
Use the question word 몇(myeot) when the answer involves counters such as 시 (time), 살 (years old), 명 (persons), etc.
How old are you?
내일 사람 몇 명 만나요?
How many people will you meet tomorrow?
내일 몇 시에 일어날 거예요?
What time are you going to get up tomorrow?
Use the question word 얼마 (eolma) when you ask for the amount, price and degree that you do not know exactly.
How much is the price?
여기서 얼마나 멀어요?
How far is it from here?
How to Say Zero in Korean
There are two ways of saying zero in Korean: 영 (yeong) and 공 (gong).
영 is used in arithmetic:
- 0 X 1 = 0 → 영 곱하기 일은 영 (zero multiplied by one is zero)
- 0.35 = 영 점 삼오 (점 means dot)
- 0.0002 = 영 점 영영영이
공 is used for phone numbers or other occasions in which people say numbers digit-by-digit. The digit 0 is then pronounced as 공.
- 010 0101 1234 = 공일공 공일공일 일이삼사
Ask and Talk About Age in Korean
Because of the Confucianism-influenced cultural background, which values hierarchical order among people, age is important in Korean society.
Upon meeting someone for the first time, Koreans usually ask about each other’s age, even before asking their names in order to decide which speech level to use and how to treat one another. To review how formality and politeness are expressed in Korean culture, read this article on Korean speech levels.
Overall, the Korean way of calculating one’s age is unique.
Koreans count the total number of years he or she has lived. For example, if a baby was born on December 31st, 2000, he or she became 2 years old in Korean age just one day later! For a thorough explanation of the Korean age system, read this article.
This is because 2001 is the second year that he or she has experienced, even though she or he is only two-days old. For this reason, Koreans become one year older on January 1st, not on their birthday.
We can ask other people’s age in the following manner:
나이가 어떻게 되세요?
How old are you?
How old are you?
We sometimes ask the birth year.
When is your birth year?
When we ask the age of the elders, we need to use more polite language:
연세가 어떻게 되세요?
How old are you?
연세 (yeonse) is the honorific form of 나이 (nai), both meaning age.
We use the Native Korean number system to indicate our age：
스물 한 살이에요.
I’m 21 years old.
Or state our year of birth:
I was born in 1997.
Ask and Talk About Date and Time in Korean
You can ask the date of a day like this:
오늘 몇월 며칠이에요?
What’s today’s date?
Expressing the date in Korean is in year-month-day format,: from the biggest and down to the smallest unit. You can say 년(nyeon), 월(wol), and 일(il), (which is year, month, day respectively)after the numbers, as Sino-Korean numbers.
오늘은 7월(칠월) 12일(십이일)이에요.
It is July 12th today.
Korean months are named after their numeral sequences in a year with Sino-Korean numbers. They don’t have individual names in the same way as English.
The names are formed with the number + 월 (wol). Notice that the numbers in 유월 (June) and 시월 (October) undergo a form change.
|Sequence in year||English||Korean|
To ask the time, you can say:
지금 몇 시예요?
What time is it now?
When we tell the time in Korean, we use both Sino-Korean numbers and native Korean numbers.
We use native-Korean numbers in front of 시 for the hour, and Sino-Korean numbers in front of 분 for the minute.
- 3:15 = 세 시 십오 분
- 7:05 = 일곱 시 오 분
Ask and Talk About Prices in Korean Numbers
When you want to know the price for something, you can ask:
How much (is this)?
To say the price, you just add the money unit “won” after a Sino-Korean number. But you need to remember the Korean won comes in 만(man, 10000) increments, as the price increases.
- 500 won = 오백 원
- 9,000 won = 구천 원
- 12,000 won = 만이천 원
- 369,900 won = 삼십육만구천구백 원
- 5,000,800 won = 오백만팔백 원
Ask and Talk About House Numbers and Phone Numbers in Korean
When you ask about one’s address, you can say:
몇 동 몇 호에 사세요?
What is your house number?
동 is a unit for building number and 호 is for room number.
To answer, you can just add the count word after sino-Korean numbers.
- 백이 동 천일 호 = Building 102 Room 1001
- 사 동 오백이 호 = Building 4 Room 502
To ask the phone numbers, you can say:
전화번호가 어떻게 되세요?
What is your phone number?
To say a phone number, you just need to say it digit by digit as Sino-Korean numbers:
- 010-1234-5678 = 공일공 일이삼사 오육칠팔
Using Numbers When Ordering Items
When you order something, you just need to say the items and quantities, usually as native Korean numbers.
When ordering one item, you can omit the count words:
아이스아메리카노 하나 주세요.
Please give me one iced Americano.
아이스아메리카노 한 잔 주세요.
Please give me one glass of iced Americano.
You can use the most common count word 개 in the most cases, even if you don’t know what the collocative count word for the item is.
공책 한 권 주세요 = 공책 한 개 주세요.
Please give me one notebook.
Through this article, you have learned how to use the two Korean number systems, how to count numbers for different purposes and how to use numbers in various daily conversations, so now it’s time to level up the challenge with exercises! LingoDeer’s Korean course includes 3 lessons to cover all aspects of Korean numbers and provides you a variety of exercises to strengthen what you have learned. For better language learning, start with LingoDeer from today!
There’s also a free video by LingoDeer about the two number systems in Korean!