Episode 4: Sino-Korean Numbers

September 10, 2015


안녕 친구들~! 마가리타입니당!

In today's episode I'll finally be moving away from pronunciation and towards vocab/grammar topics. I felt like I had to shake things up a bit so I've left pronunciation for the time being, while I focus on Korean NUMBERS



In short, Korean has two counting system: the Sino-Korean and Native Korean. In this episode I will cover everything I know about Sino-Korean numbers because personally they are much easier to wrap around the mind of a foreigner because there isn't much memorisation involved, as there are patterns EVERYWHERE :) 



일- one               육- six

이- two               칠- seven

삼- three            팔- eight

사- four              구- nine

오- five               싶- ten 


Unfortunately, with the first ten numbers there is nothing you can do apart from memorising them. Luckily, that's pretty much the only Sin-Korean numbers you'll need to memorise because the rest of them are all based on these first 10 numbers!



When it comes to double-digit numbers, Sino-Korean numbers are very straight forward. All you have to do is just break the number down to the first and second digit, for example: eleven is ten and one, right? 


11- 십일 (ten and one)

12- 십이 (ten and two)

13- 십삼 (ten and three)

14- 십사 (ten and four)

15- 십오 (tean and five)

... all the way until 20...


But what happens when we reach 20? The answer is incredibly simple. 

We need to break 20 into digits as well. Twenty is two and ten, right? That way twenty is 이십! The same pattern applies to numbers until 100.


50- 오십 (five and ten)

60- 육십 (six and ten)

70- 일십 (seven and ten)

80- 팔십 (eight and ten)

90- 구십 (nine and ten) 


So now, knowing these two patterns you've got yourself covered for all the numbers between 11 and 99!


35- 삼십오 (three ten and five)

58- 오십팔 (five ten and eight)

76- 칠십육 (seven ten and six)

93- 구십삼 (nine ten and three) 



The only additional thing you need to know to be able to count above a 100 is how to say a hundred and a thousand in Korean.

100- 백

1000- 천


Otherwise, the patterns repeat until 10,000! All you have to do is continue breaking the numbers down into digits. 


358- 삼백오십팔 (three, hundred, five, ten and eight)

747- 칠백사십칠 (seven, hundred, four, ten and seven) 

891- 팔백구십일 (eight, hundred, nine, ten, and one)

126- 백이십육 (hundred, two, ten, and six)

1849- 처팔백사십구 (thousand, eight, hundred, four, ten, nine)

7248- 칠천이백사십팔 (seven, thousand, two, hundred, four, ten, eight)

4793- 사천칠백구십삼 (four, thousand, seven, hundred, nine, ten, three) 



For me, this was the hardest aspect of Sino-Korean numbers to wrap my head around because I think of numbers in a way different from the way a Korean person thinks about numbers. Sounds confusing? I'll explain. 


Korean has a specific word for 10,000- 만. So when we're breaking our numbers into digits we need to consider that Koreans count 10,000 as a specific digit. Still confusing? I'll explain further.


Let's say we have a random number 168,000 and we want to say/write it in Korean. As a foreigner we will probably think about it as 168 and 1000, right? So 백육십팔천... right? Technically... yes but no. Not at all. 


What you have to do is consider how many 10,000s can go into a certain number. The way I think about it is whether I can divide a number by 10,000. In case of 168,000, I can and the answer will be 16.8. We get rid of the .8 and we are left with 16. So what we say is 십육만, which means that there are 16 ten thousands and then 팔천, which is 8,000.


Let's take another number: 158,500

Can we fit 10,000 into it? Yes, 15 times.

So we take 오십만, which is 15 ten thousands and then add 팔천오백 to it. 

So in the end we will be left with 오십만팔천오백. 


58,500- 오만팔천오백 (five, ten thousand, eight, thousand, five, hundred)

23,048- 이만삼천사십팔 (two, ten thousand, three, thousand, four, ten, eight)

98,874- 구만팔천팔백칠십사 (nine, ten thousand, eight, thousand, eight, hundred, seven, ten, four) 


Phewww..... that last bit was a bit complicated, don't you think? Make sure to practice your Sino-Korean numbers well! I'm not going to go into huge numbers like millions and billions even though they technically follow the same pattern with just additional words for million and billion, I believe. But that's way too bothersome even for me so we'll leave it for later ^^


I hope this helped and please look forward to the upcoming episodes where we will explore Native Korean numbers and find out in what situations do we use each system and when do we even combine them :O ;)


Let me know if you have any questions! 

Much love,


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