Counting in Korean
The Korean language is considered a language isolate. Two standard forms or dialects exist: the South Korean standard (Hangugeo, 한국어 in Hangul), and the North Korean standard (Chosŏnmal, 조선말 in Chosŏn’gŭl). Spoken in both Koreas, it is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture and Changbai Korean Autonomous County of Jilin province, China. Korean is spoken by about 77.2 million people. It can be written in Hangul or Chosŏn’gŭl alphabet, the name given to the same alphabet on each side of the Koreans frontier, and also in Hanja (in the South Korea) or Hancha (in the North Korea), the Korean name for the Han Chinese characters.
Korean numbers list
- 1 – 一 일 (il)
- 2 – 二 이 (i)
- 3 – 三 삼 (sam)
- 4 – 四 사 (sa)
- 5 – 五 오 (o)
- 6 – 六 육 (yuk)
- 7 – 七 칠 (chil)
- 8 – 八 팔 (pal)
- 9 – 九 구 (gu)
- 10 – 十 십 (sip)
- 11 – 十一 십일 (sipil)
- 12 – 十二 십이 (sipi)
- 13 – 十三 십삼 (sipsam)
- 14 – 十四 십사 (sipsa)
- 15 – 十五 십오 (sipo)
- 16 – 十六 십육 (sipyuk)
- 17 – 十七 십칠 (sipchil)
- 18 – 十八 십팔 (sippal)
- 19 – 十九 십구 (sipgu)
- 20 – 二十 이십 (isip)
- 30 – 三十 삼십 (samsip)
- 40 – 四十 사십 (sasip)
- 50 – 五十 오십 (osip)
- 60 – 六十 육십 (yuksip)
- 70 – 七十 칠십 (chilsip)
- 80 – 八十 팔십 (palsip)
- 90 – 九十 구십 (gusip)
- 100 – 百 백 (baek)
- 1,000 – 千 천 (cheon)
The two numeral systems of Korean
The Korean language uses two different set of numbers: the native Korean on one hand, and the Sino-Korean on the other. The native Korean numerals go from one to ninety-nine only. Thus, numbers from one hundred and above have to use the Sino-Korean system, but they can still use the native Korean numerals for the tens and units. One hundred and one can be said baek-hana or baeg-il. They are used to express hours up to 12, while hours from 13 to 24 can use either native Korean or Sino-Korean, and the minutes are said in the Sino-Korean system. The native Korean numerals are also used to tell the age of a person, which can be expressed in both systems: twenty-five-year-old is 스물다섯 살 (seumul-daseot sal) in native Korean, and isibose (이십오 세 in Hangul, 二十五 歲 in Hanja) in Sino-Korean. The native Korean numbers are either written in Hangul, the Korean alphabet, or in the Latin alphabet (or romanized), while the Sino-Korean numbers are written in Hanja, the Han Chinese characters incorporated in the Korean language, in Hangul or transliterated in the Latin alphabet.
The native Korean numerals
- Digits from one to nine are: 하나 (hana) , 둘 (dul) , 셋 (set) , 넷 (net) , 다섯 (daseot) , 여섯 (yeoseot) , 일곱 (ilgop) , 여덟 (yeodeol) , and 아홉 (ahop) .
- Tens are: 열 (yeol) , 스물 (seumul) , 서른 (seoreun) , 마흔 (maheun) , 쉰 (swin) , 예순 (yesun) , 일흔 (ilheun) , 여든 (yeodeun) , and 아흔 (aheun) .
- Compound numbers are formed starting with the ten directly followed by the unit (e.g.: 열여섯 (yeollyeoseot) , 쉰여덟 (swinyeodeol) ).
The following glyphs are the cardinal numerals written in Hanja.
Korean numbering rules
Now that you’ve had a gist of the most useful numbers, let’s move to the writing rules for the tens, the compound numbers, and why not the hundreds, the thousands and beyond (if possible).
- The Sino-Korean digits from one to nine are: 일 (一, il) , 이 (二, i) , 삼 (三, sam) , 사 (四, sa) , 오 (五, o) , 육 or 륙 (六, yuk or ryuk) , 칠 (七, chil) , 팔 (八, pal) , and 구 (九, gu) .
- The tens are formed starting with the multiplier digit directly followed by the unit, except for ten: 십 (十, sip) , 이십 (二十, isip) , 삼십 (三十, samsip) , 사십 (四十, sasip) , 오십 (五十, osip) , 육십 or 륙십 (六十, yuksip or ryuksip) , 칠십 (七十, chilsip) , 팔십 (八十, palsip) , and 구십 (九十, gusip) .
- Compound numbers are formed starting with the ten directly followed by the unit (e.g.: 십육 (sipyuk) , 오십팔 (osippal) ).
- The hundreds are formed starting with the multiplier digit directly followed by the word for hundred (백, baek), except for one hundred: 백 (百, baek) , 이백 (二百, ibaek) , 삼백 (三百, sambaek) , 사백 (四百, sabeak) , 오백 (五百, obeak) , 육백 (六百, yukbaek) , 칠백 (七百, chilbaek) , 팔백 (八百, palbaek) , and 구백 (九百, gubaek) .
- The thousands are formed starting with the multiplier digit directly followed by the word for thousand (천, cheon), except for one thousand: 천 (千, cheon) [1,000], 이천 (二千, icheon) [2,000], 삼천 (三千, samcheon) [3,000], 사천 (四千, sacheon) [4,000], 오천 (五千, ocheon) [5,000], 육천 (六千, yukcheon) [6,000], 칠천 (七千, chilcheon) [7,000], 팔천 (八千, palcheon) [8,000], and 구천 (九千, gucheon) [9,000].
- Higher scale numbers follow the same pattern, using the myriad system where big numbers have a new name each 10,000 multiplier (digits are thus grouped by four): 만 (萬, man) [10,000, 104], 억 (億, eok) [100 millions, 108], 조 (兆, jo) [trillion, 1012], 경 (京, gyeong) [ten quadrillions, 1016], 해 (垓, hae) [hundred quintillion, 1020]…
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