Learning numbers in Korean doesn't require hard fast skills or experience. You can learn them in a span of 30 minutes.
Knowing how to read and pronounce Korean alphabets is only required for you to master the Korean numbers.
Unlike the English language there are two sets of numbers called Sino Korean or Native Korean. They're not used interchangeably in fact they have separate cases or conditions when they are used.
Sino Korean numbers are used with things like dates, money, minutes, addresses, phone numbers, and numbers above 100.
Native Korean numbers are used for general counting, like when you're counting out loud, up to 99. It's also used to count people, hours, things, ages, and more.
For numbers 11-19 could be interpreted as 10+1, 10+2 so on and so forth.
For 20 it could be interpreted as 2 times 10.
Rest 21-29 could be interpreted as 2x10+1
And so on….
For numbers from 30-39 Which could be interpreted as 3x10+1
And so on
Here we see the difference where 100 is called 백 (baek)
Unlike sino Korean words there's no pattern to easily remember the numbers.
For numbers from 11-19 the numbers would be interpreted as 열 + 하나, 열 둘, 열 셋
For 20 in native Korean we say 스물
For numbers from 21-29 it could be interpreted as 스물 + 하나
Usage of Korean numbers used with ordinal numbers
The counter for ordinal numbers is 번째 (beonjjae)
We use Native Korean numbers when using ordinal numbers like “first,” “second,” and “third.”
First, second, third and fourth use the Native Korean words but drop the bottom hangul character.
“First” changes from 헌 to 첫 and adds the counter 번째.
So “first'' in Korean is 첫번째.
“둘 becomes 두번째
셋 Becomes 세번째
넷 Becomes 네번째
After four the rest of the numbers will be as usual and added 번째 (beonjjae) to the end. So “fifth'' would be 다섯번째.
Using Korean numbers to denote time.
Sino Korean numbers are used to denote the number of days. The counter for days is 일
일일 Pronounced as ir-il
- 이일 1 day
- 삼일 2 day
- 사일 3 day
We use Sino Korean numbers for weeks as well.
The counter for week is 주
- 일주 1 week
- 이주 2 week
- 삼주 3 week
That’s because the months are just the Sino number + the word for month, which is 월 (wol). Take a look:
- January: 일월 (irwol)
- February: 이월 (iwol)
- March: 섬월 (samwol)
- April: 서월 (sawol)
- May: 오월 (owol)
- June: 유월 (yuwol)
- July: 칠월 (chirwol)
- August: 팔월 (parwol)
- September: 구시월 (guwol)
- October: 시월 (siwol)
- November: 십일월 (sibirwol)
- December: 십이월 (sibiwol)
Counter for year is 년
일년 First year
이년 Second year
For saying specific years you can just use 년 after the year.
Eg : 2021 년
To say the day, August 15th, 2020 : 2020년 8월 15일.
Using Korean numbers with common counters.
In Korean, 개 (gae) is the most common and general counter to use for non living things.
Here are a few other common counters:
- For people-명
- For animals-마리
- For books-권
- For cars, vehicles, and machinery-대
- For age-살
- For paper-장
- For slices-조각
- For time/hours-시
So how do you use these counters?
- 한 마리-1 animal
- 두개-2 things
- 스물 살-20 years old
- 여덟 시-8 o’clock
Here are some words to know:
- Equals-와 같다
See also : Nature words vocabulary list in Korean
To understand TOPIK Test structure, application process, Levels and Passing scores etc. check these pages:
- TOPIK – The Complete Guide & 2. TOPIK Levels and Passing Marks. You can also Practice Online with TOPIK GUIDE Mock Tests.
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