Nouns - Numbers and Counting

There are two ways of pronouncing numbers in Korean. These are:

  • Sino-Korean numerals - 일, 이, 삼, ...
  • Native Korean numerals - 하나, 둘, 셋, ...

The Sino-Korean numerals are used for dates, minutes and prices.
The native Korean numerals are used for counting, age and hours.


Sino-Korean Numerals [Dates, Minutes and Prices]

The key to memorizing the pronunciations of the Sino-Korean numerals is to learn from 1(일) to 10(십), and use these ten numbers as building blocks to learn the rest of the numbers. Here is a list of the first ten numbers:
  • 1 = 일
  • 2 = 이
  • 3 = 삼
  • 4 = 사
  • 5 = 오
  • 6 = 육
  • 7 = 칠
  • 8 = 팔
  • 9 = 구
  • 10 = 십

From 11 to 19, what you need to do is say 10(십) first and say the ones' number.
For example,

  • 11 = 10 + 1 십 + 일 = 십일
  • 12 = 10 + 2십 + 이 = 십이
  • 13 = 10 + 3 십 + 삼 = 십삼
  • 17 = 10 + 7 십 + 칠 = 십칠
  • 19 = 10 + 9 십 + 구 = 십구


From 20 and onward, it works in the same way. But in addition, 20, 30, ..., 90 are pronounced in the following way:

  • 20 = 이 + 십 = 이십 (Lit. two-ten)
  • 30 = 삼 + 십 = 삼십 (Lit. three-ten)
  • 50 = 오 + 십 = 오십
  • 80 = 팔 + 십 = 팔십
  • 90 = 구 + 십 = 구십

Additionally,

  • 21 = 이십 + 일 = 이십일 (Lit. two-ten one)
  • 22 = 이십 + 이 = 이십이
  • 32 = 삼십 + 이 = 삼십이
  • 45 = 사십 + 오 = 사십오
  • 57 = 오십 + 칠 = 오십칠
  • 89 = 팔십 + 구 = 팔십구

100 is 백, and 200 is 이백 which literally means 'two-hundred.' Then how do you say 300 as a Sino-Korean numeral? Yes, it's 삼백 (Lit. three-hundred)

  • 100 = 백
  • 101 = 백일
  • 105 = 백오
  • 127 = 백이십칠
  • 200 = 이백
  • 219 = 이백십구
  • 324 = 삼백이십사
  • 508 = 오백팔
  • 731 = 칠백삼십일
  • 945 = 구백사십오

1000 is 천, then 2000 is? Yes, it's 이천. Then how do you say 3283 in a Sino-Korean way? It's 삼천이백팔십삼. [Lit. three-thousand two-hundred eight-ten three]

  • 1000 = 천
  • 1001 = 천일
  • 1035 = 천삼십오
  • 2427 = 이천사백이십칠
  • 8492 = 팔천사백구십이

What is 10000? It's 만. It is not 십천 (or ten-thousand). 20000 is 이만, 30000 is 삼만 and so on.

  • 10000 = 만
  • 10002 = 만이
  • 10034 = 만삼십사
  • 20673 = 이만육백칠십삼
  • 84832 = 팔만사천팔백삼십이

Now 100000 is 십만 and 200000 is 이십만. At this point, it'd help you understand the naming system of these numbers if you think them in terms of their number of zeros. Here is what I mean:

  • 10000 is 만
  • 10,0000 is 십만
  • 100,0000 is 백만
  • 1000,0000 is 천만
  • 1,0000,0000 is 억 (NOT 만만)
  • 10,0000,0000 is 십억
  • 100,0000,0000 is 백억
  • 1000,0000,0000 is 천억
  • 1,0000,0000,0000 is 조

You can see that numbers obtain a new name every time they get additional 4 zeros. This is different to English where the name of numbers change after every additional 3 zeros. For example, 'thousand', 'million' and 'billion'.


However, when we write numbers, we follow the international standard in that the comma is placed after every threes. The examples above where the comma is placed after every 4 zeros are for the purpose of easier understanding only. Therefore:

  • 만 = 10,000
  • 십만 = 100,000 (NOT 10,0000)
  • 백만 = 1,000,000 (NOT 100,0000)

Let's revise what we've learned above:

  • 11 = 십일
  • 12 = 십이
  • 13 = 십삼
  • 20 = 이십
  • 25 = 이십오
  • 30 = 삼십
  • 40 = 사십
  • 50 = 오십
  • 56 = 오십육
  • 70 = 칠십
  • 80 = 팔십
  • 100 = 백
  • 101 = 백일
  • 107 = 백칠
  • 120 = 백이십
  • 150 = 백오십
  • 200 = 이백
  • 202 = 이백이
  • 537 = 오백삼십칠 [500 +30 + 7 오백 + 삼십 + 칠 = 오백삼십칠]
  • 1000 = 천
  • 2000 = 이천
  • 2500 = 이천오백
  • 10000 = 만
  • 10500 = 만오백 [10000 + 500 만 + 오백 = 만오백]
  • 53847 = 오만삼천팔백사십칠 [50000 + 3000 + 800 + 40 + 7 오만 + 삼천 + 팔백 + 사십 + 칠 = 오만삼천팔백사십칠]

The following are the examples of how the Sino-Korean numerals are used for dates, minutes and prices.


[Dates]

The order in which the date is written is reversed in Korean. A day of the week comes first, then a month and then a year. [a year = 년, a month = 월, a day of the week = 일]

Notice how the Sino-Korean numerals are used in pronouncing dates.
  • 28 Jan 2010 → 2010년 1월 28일 = 이천십이십팔
  • 17/10/2011 → 2011/10/17 = 2011년 10월 17일 =이천십일십칠

Note: 10월 is not 십월, but rather 시월. This exception is due to the awkwardness of pronouncing 십월, which is quite cumbersome to pronounce. Therefore 10월 is 시월 for the pronunciation's sake.


[Minutes]

The Sino-Korean numerals are also used for 'minutes' but not for 'hours'. The native Korean numerals which are used for pronouncing the number of 'hours' are explained below in the second section of this post.

[an hour, o'clock = 시, a minute(s) = 분, am = 오전, pm = 오후]

  • 9:38 am → 오전 9시 38분 = 오전 아홉시 삼십팔
  • 6:19 pm → 오후 6시 19분 = 오후 여섯시 십구


[Prices]

The Korean currency is called 'won.' Its symbol is '₩', and it's pronounced 원.

  • 12,800 → 12,800원 = 만이천팔백
  • 39,130 → 39,130원 = 삼만구천백삼십



Native Korean numerals [Counting, Age and Hours]

The basic numbering system of the native Korean numerals is the same as that of the Sino-Korean numerals. However, in addition to one to ten, there is a need to learn the special pronunciations of tens, i.e. 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80 and 90.

From 100, the pronunciation is the same as the Sino-Korean numerals we've looked at above. [hundred (100) = 백, thousand (1000) = 천, ten thousand (10000) = 만]

  • 1 = 하나
  • 2 = 둘
  • 3 = 셋
  • 4 = 넷
  • 5 = 다섯
  • 6 = 여섯
  • 7 = 일곱
  • 8 = 여덟
  • 9 = 아홉
  • 10 = 열
  • 11 = 열 하나
  • 12 = 열 둘
  • 13 = 열 셋
  • 17 = 열 일곱
  • 20 = 스물
  • 21 = 스물 하나
  • 22 = 스물 둘
  • 23 = 스물 셋
  • 30 = 서른
  • 40 = 마흔
  • 50 = 쉰
  • 55 = 쉰 다섯
  • 60 = 예순
  • 70 = 일흔
  • 75 = 일흔 다섯 [70 + 5 일흔 + 다섯 = 일흔다섯]
  • 80 = 여든
  • 90 = 아흔
  • 100 = 백
  • 189 = 백 여든 아홉 [100 + 80 + 9 백 + 여든 + 아홉 = 백여든아홉]

Below are the examples of how the native Korean numerals are used in counting, age and hours.  


[Counting]

The native Korean numerals are used for counting, e.g. the number of people in a class, the number of cars in a car park, the numbers of apples on an apple tree, the numbers of pencils or pens on a desk, etc.

  • 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... = 하나, 둘, 셋, 넷, 다섯, ...

When counting, we use distinctive identifier words called counters. Each kind of object (or person for that matter) has their own counter to distinguish them from other kinds. This counter system is a bit like the system found in English, i.e. 3 cups of juice, 5 glasses of water. However, the Korean counting system extends to every object.

For example,

  • three cups of juice = 주스 세
  • five glasses of water = 물 다섯
  • six people = 여섯명 (사람)
  • five cars = 차 다섯
  • three apples = 사과 세
  • two pencils = 연필 두자루 
  • four books = 책 네권 
  • ten roses = 장미 열송이

Listed below are some of the most common counters used in counting.

  • 명 = people
  • 마리 = animals
  • 대 = cars
  • 개 = objects (this is very widely used for any inanimate objects)
  • 자루 = long, lean objects
  • 그루 = trees
  • 송이 = flowers
  • 켤레 = shoes
  • 장 = paper
  • 권 = books
  • 살 = age
  • 층 = floor [The Sino-Korean numerals are used for counting the number of floors, i.e. the first floor = 일층, the second floor = 이층, and the eighth floor = 팔층]

Please also note that 하나 becomes 한, and the final consonant of each of 둘, 셋, 넷 and 스물 is omitted when they are attached to counters. For example, 
  • (물) 한잔 = a glass of water (NOT 하나잔)
  • (종이) 두장 = two pieces of paper (NOT 둘장)
  • (신발) 세켤레 = three pairs of shoes (NOT 셋켤레)
  • (사람) 네명 = four people (NOT 넷명)
  • (나이) 스무살 = twenty (years of age) (NOT 스물살)

The counters work in a similar way to some of the counter words in English, e.g. 장 is similar to 'pieces' and 켤레 is similar to 'pairs'. 


[Age]

As we've looked at above, the counter, 살, is attached to years of age. For example:

  • 1 = 한살
  • 2 = 두살
  • 3 = 세살
  • 4 = 네살
  • 5 = 다섯살
  • 7 = 일곱살
  • 10 = 열살
  • 11 = 열한살
  • 12 = 열두살
  • 13 = 열세살
  • 17 = 열일곱살
  • 20 = 스무살
  • 24 = 스물 네살
  • 32 = 서른 두살
  • 58 = 쉰 여덟살 


[Hours]

The native Korean numerals are also used for 'hours' but not for 'minutes' which use the Sino-Korean numerals.

  • 10:25 am → 오전 10시 25분 = 오전 시 이십오분
  • 7:30 pm → 오후 7시 30분 = 오후 일곱시 삼십분 or 오후 일곱시 반 (반 means 'a half')


[Months]
  • 한달 = 1 month
  • 두달 = 2 months
  • 세달 = 3 months
  • 네달 = 4 months
  • 다섯달 = 5 months
  • 여섯달 = 6 months
  • 일곱달 = 7 months
  • 여덞달 = 8 months
  • 아홉달 = 9 months
  • 열달 = 10 months

Example sentence
  • 2달 동안 학교를 다니고 2주동안 방학을 했다 = I went to school for 2 months and had a break(holidays) for 2 weeks.


    16 comments:

    1. 마흔 is written twice for 40 and 90. 90 is 아흔 right?

      ReplyDelete
    2. Thanks for the correction. That was my typo.

      ReplyDelete
    3. I found that the first numbers (sino) are used for minutes, dates, prices,... and the second for counting, age, and hours. Is it right??

      ReplyDelete
    4. To Anonymous

      Yes, and I've added some more explanations about them.
      Please read the post again for clarification.

      ReplyDelete
    5. For eight 여덟, do you pronounce it 여덜 or 여덥

      ReplyDelete
    6. hi, month = 달, but then eg is 2010년 1월 28일. Month should be 월 right?

      ReplyDelete
    7. Yes, a typo.
      It should be 월.

      달 is used for counting months.

      For example,

      2 months = 2달 (두달)
      5 months = 5달 (다섯달)

      ReplyDelete
    8. Hi. In your last sentence, is it possible to write 학교에 instead of 학교를 ? thank you for everything

      ReplyDelete
    9. Yes, you can. 학교에 is also fine. When speaking, you'd drop the particle anyway. So you'd say 2달 동안 학교 다니고 2주 동안 방학했어. :)

      ReplyDelete
    10. Hello, sorry I just had to comment and say thank you for al the effort you put into this blog, it is truly amazing. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much and may God bless you.

      Also sorry how do you say 1일. It's not 일일 right?

      ReplyDelete
    11. Hi, you're welcome!

      1일 would be pronounced as 이릴.

      May God bless you, too! :-)

      ReplyDelete
    12. 2달 동안 학교를 다니고 2주동안 방학을 했다 = I went to school for 2 months and had a break(holidays) for 2 weeks.

      What does '동안' mean?

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Alan,

        동안 means "over the course of."

        Therefore,

        2달 동안 means "over the course of 2 months"
        2주 동안 means "over the course of 2 weeks"

        Delete
    13. I'm trying to learn Korean as well and I ran into something strange when I was on Rosetta Stone once...it said something about counting boats and it used what I thought was a counter specific called 척...even if it's not a counter for certain things, I was wondering what it was because when I type it into Google translate it doesn't give me anything that would relate to what the picture was showing.

      ReplyDelete
      Replies
      1. Hi Anonymous,

        I can see that you may have found 척 quite confusing, because it's not commonly encountered word even among Koreans unless they specifically talk about it.

        Well, 척 is a counter for ships.

        So, 2 ships would be 배 두척.

        However, for boats, it is more common to use 대 which is also used to count cars.

        So, 5 boats would be 보트 다섯대.

        20 cars would be 차 스무대.

        Hope this helped with your question.

        Cheers.

        Delete

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