Korean Numbers

There are two numbering systems in Korean language: Native and Sino Numbers.

Native Numbers are pure Korean numbers and Sino Numbers are derived from Chinese numbers. Similar numbering systems exist in Japanese language.  First see the image below—’Native Numbers’.

A hundred, a thousand and ten thousand are very rarely used in Native Numbering system. In fact, I’m a native Korean and have never learned to count those numbers with Native Numbers at school. They are almost obsolete numbers, in my opinion.


In the table below, you see the numbers 1 to 10 and 20, 30, 40… 90.
This is how you count the numbers using the information:
11 = 열 하나 = 열(10) + 하나(1)
22 = 스물 둘 = 스물(20) + 둘(2)
99 = 아흔 아홉 = 아흔(90) + 아홉(9)

It’s simple, right?

Using what we learned so far you can say your age with the Native numbers. But please make sure of the spelling difference noted below.

Next is Sino Numbers. Compared to Native Numbers, they are easier to memorize. The table below shows the numbers up to 100.

Try saying these numbers in Korean: 8, 13, 21, 36, 44, 59, 66, 75, 82, 99, 146, 127

The answers are: 팔, 십삼, 이십일, 삼십육, 사십사, 오십구, 육십육, 칠십오, 팔십이, 구십구, 백사십육, 백이십칠

And here are the rest Sino Numbers.

You may have noticed that the numbers are broken down with four zeros between commas unlike the English numbering system which is broken down with three digits. So, in Korean ten thousand becomes a base unit to count larger numbers; 10000 (만), 10,0000 (십만=십+만), 100,0000 (백만=백+만), 1000,0000 (천만=천+만).

Now that you know how to count numbers, you would want to know how to count things, animals, persons and so on. Unlike English, Korean language uses different counters to count different objects. Stay tuned.



Edited: 1/25/2018

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