Let’s learn how to count in Chinese today. Good news, the numerical system in Chinese is very straightforward and simple! Different from English, it doesn’t require you to count multiples of ten such as twenty, or forty in unique way, and it doesn’t require you to add “-teen” after numbers that come after ten. So don’t freak yourself out, let’s get start!
Counting from 1 to 10
1 一 yī one
2 二 èr two
3 三 sān three
4 四 sì four
5 五 wǔ five
6 六 lìu six
7 七 qī seven
8 八 bā eight
9 九 jiǔ nine
10 十 shí ten
More than “Ten”?
Before continuing, let’s have a basic math quizz!
11 = 10 + _?_
The answer is too easy (1). A genius like you wouldn’t have problem with it. But what’s the relation between math and counting in Chinese?
Well, remember 10 is shí (十)? Now put 1 (yī) after 10 (10 1), what will you pronounce?
Guess what, this is how “eleven” is pronounced!
“Eleven is written as “十一” (shí yī), which simply combine 10 and 1 together.
Same logic for 12-19! Can you count to 19 now?
Some more examples
|12 =||10 十 + 2 二||十二||shí èr|
|13 =||10 十 + 3 三||十三||shí sān|
|15 =||10 十 + 5 五||十五||shí wǔ|
What about multiples of tens?
Let’s do a simple math problem again.
20 = _?_ x 10
No doubt, the answer in the blank will be two!
Two (2) is èr, and now put a 10 after it, what will you pronounce?
“èr shí” – Bingo!
This is how we say “twenty” in Chinese! Twenty is written as “二十” (èr shí), which simply combine 二 and 十 together.
Same logic for the rest of tens!
Some more examples
|30 =||3 三 x 10 十||三十||sān shí|
|40 =||4 四 x 10 十||四十||Sì shí|
|90 =||9 九 x 10 十||九十||jiǔ shí|
Last but not least: How to say e.g. 21, 32, 43?
For other numbers counting from 21-29, 31-39 and so on, we just need to follow the same logical equation just mentioned.
21 = 2 x 10 + _?_ (二十+?) Put a one after twenty!
32 = 3 x 10 +_?_ (三十+?) Put a two after thirty!
43 = 4 x 10 +_?_(四十+?) Put a three after forty!
I guess you already figured it out!
21 is 二十一 (èr shí yī)
32 is 三十二 (sān shí èr)
43 is 四十三 (sì shí sān)
Congrats! Now you are able to count from 1-99 following the same system! Wanna take a quick challenge?
How to pronounce 58?
How to pronounce 79?
How to pronounce 44?
Challenge accepted? Come and discuss the answer with our tutor and learn more about the different classifiers which are used in Chinese. Sign up for a free trial and download our Chinese learning App.