How to Count in Korean: Learn Korean Numbers and Counting in One Article


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Native speaker of Korean and majored in English literature and Korean language.
Passionate amateur linguist & tutor, with official certificate of Korean language teacher.
As travel lover and language freak, love to communicate with various sorts of people, dig languages and help others to see attractive points of languages.
Aejee Jang

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.

Numeral Sino-Korean Native 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

Do you know that Minions talk numbers in Korean?

hana dul set

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.

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.

How to count in Korean: when to use which system: Sino-Korean vs. native Korean

You will find a video explanation here!

 

Korean Numbers 10-99

We will introduce how to count in Korean as Sino-Korean numbers first. 

The general rule to form a double-digit number is number + 십(sip) + number, reading the numeral from left to right:

  • 24 = 이사 (two-ten-four)
  • 92 = 구이 (nine-ten-two)

For numbers 11-19, it’s just 십(sip) + number:

  • 11 = 일 (ten-one)
  • 16 = 육 (ten-six)

If the number is the multiples of 10, it’s number + 십(sip):

  • 30 = 삼 (three-ten)
  • 90 = 구 (nine-ten)

Important note: the rules for 10-99 will be used again if you encounter them in larger numbers above 100. 

Now let’s enjoy a song of Sino-Korean numbers!

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”

How to count in Korean: Korean number digits: 십,백,천,만,십만,백만,천만,억

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:

If the number is 100~199, start with 백 directly:

  • 113 = 십삼 (hundred-ten-three)
  • 189 = 팔십구 (hundred-eight-ten-nine_

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:

If the number is 1000~1999, start with 천 directly: 

  • 1199 = 백구십구 (thousand-hundred-nine-ten-nine)
  • 1812 = 팔백십이 (thousand-eight-hundred-ten-two)

Counting in Korean vs Counting in English

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). 

How to count in Korean: common hanja counters with Sino-Korean numbers: 년,월,일,분,초,원,주일,층,인분

Exercises for Sino-Korean Numbers

Part 1: Try to read the following numerals as Sino-Korean numbers. 

Challenge yourself – do not peep the keys! 

37 

70 

498 

5,500 

60,081 

812,345 

1,003,567 

21,250,000 

934,714,575 

Part 2: Try to say some phrases containing Sino-Korean numbers. 

35,000 won  

3 weeks 

No. 100 

15th floor 

10 portions/servings 

 

Keys: 

Part 1: 

37 = 삼십칠

70 = 칠십

498 = 사백구십팔

5,500 = 오천오백

60,081 = 육팔십일

812,345 = 팔십일이천삼백사십오

1,003,567 = 백삼천오백육십칠

21,250,000 = 이천백이십오

934,714,575 = 구삼천사백칠십일사천오백칠십오

Part 2: 

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.

Native Korean Number 20-90
Numeral Native Korean Number
20  스물 seumul
30 서른 seoleun
40 마흔 maheun
50 쉰 swin
60 예순 yesun
70 일흔 ilheun
80 여든 yeodeun
90 아흔 aheun

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)

Now let’s enjoy another song of Native Korean numbers!

Counting above 100 with Native Korean numbers?

The maximum that the native Korean number can reach is 99. For any numbers starting from 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.

Example:

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). 

How to count in Korean: common count words with native Korean numbers: 개,달,시,시간,명,살,마리

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. 

Form change of 5 native Korean numbers: 하나,둘,셋,넷,스물

Exercises for Native Korean Numbers

Try to read some phrases containing native Korean numbers. 

Four dogs 

Twenty hours

Nine people 

7 o’clock 

9 months

Keys: 

Four dogs = 강아지 네 마리

Twenty hours = 스무 시간

Nine people = 아홉 명

7 o’clock = 일곱 시

9 months = 아홉 달 

Asking Number-Related Questions with 몇 and 얼마

Use the question word(myeot) when the answer involves counters such as 시 (time), 살 (years old), 명 (persons), etc.

Examples: 

몇 살이에요?
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.

가격이 얼마예요?
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). 

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

is used for phone numbers or other occasions in which people say numbers digit-by-digit. The digit 0 is then pronounced as 공. 

Example:

  • 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. 

How to count in Korean: how to calculate Korean age: Korean age = current year +1 - birth year

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 some thorough explanations about Korean age system

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? 

Or: 

몇 살이세요?

How old are you?

We sometimes ask the birth year. 

몇년 생이세요?

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:

1997년생이에요.

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. 

Example:

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. 

Months in Korean
Sequence in year English Korean
1st January 일월 ilwol
2nd February  이월 iwol
 3rd March 삼월 samwol
 4th April 사월 sawol
 5th May 오월 owol
 6th June 유월 yuwol
 7th July 칠월 chilwol
 8th August 팔월 palwol
 9th September 구월 guwol
 10th October 시월 siwol
 11th  November 십일월 sibilwol
 12th December 십이월 sibiwol

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
How to count in Korean: how to say the 12 hours around the clock in Korean
image source: harbringerofpeace on MemRise

Ask and Talk About Prices in Korean Numbers

How to count in Korean: won the currency of Korea
Won: The Currency of Korea, image from 123RF

When you want to know the price for something, you can ask: 

(이거) 얼마예요?

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.

For example: 

  • 500 won = 오백 원
  • 9,000 won = 구천 원
  • 12,000 won = 만이천 원
  • 369,900 won = 삼십육구천구백 원
  • 5,000,800 won = 오백팔백 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. 

Conclusion

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!

 


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Korean Age: How to Calculate and Talk About It
2 months ago

[…] This article provides you with a complete guide to Korean numbers systems and how to count in Korean. […]

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