Counting in Makhuwa

Language overview

Forty-two in Makhuwa The Makhuwa language (Emakuana), also spelt Makua or Macua, is a Bantu language that belongs to the Niger–Congo language family. Spoken in Northern Mozambique by the Makua people, it counts about 6.6 million speakers. Part of the dialectal continuum, the Central Makhuwa (Makhuwa-Makhuwana) counts the most speakers (about 3.1 million) and is the basis of the standard language.

Due to lack of data, we can only count accurately up to 9,999 in Makhuwa. Please contact me if you can help me counting up from that limit.

Makhuwa numbers list

  • 1 – mosa
  • 2 – pili
  • 3 – tharu
  • 4 – sheshe
  • 5 – thanu
  • 6 – thanu na mosa
  • 7 – thanu na pili
  • 8 – thanu na tharu
  • 9 – thanu na sheshe
  • 10 – mulokó
  • 11 – mulokó na mosa
  • 12 – mulokó na pili
  • 13 – mulokó na tharu
  • 14 – mulokó na sheshe
  • 15 – mulokó na thanu
  • 16 – mulokó na thanu na mosa
  • 17 – mulokó na thanu na pili
  • 18 – mulokó na thanu na tharu
  • 19 – mulokó na thanu na sheshe
  • 20 – milokó mili
  • 30 – miloko miraru
  • 40 – miloko misheshe
  • 50 – miloko mithanu
  • 60 – miloko mithanu na mosa
  • 70 – miloko mithanu na mili
  • 80 – miloko mithanu na miraru
  • 90 – miloko mithanu na misheshe
  • 100 – miloko muloko
  • 1,000 – álufu

Makhuwa 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).

  • Digits from one to five are rendered by specific words. From six to nine, the Makhuwa language follows a quinary numeration system where digits are based on five. Makhuwa digits are: mosa [1], pili (or ili) [2], tharu (or raru) [3], sheshe [4], thanu [5], thanu na mosa [6] (5+1), thanu na pili [7] (5+2), thanu na tharu [8] (5+3), and thanu na sheshe [9] (5+4).
  • Tens are formed starting with the plural form of the word for ten (mulokó in singular, miloko in plural), then the multiplier unit prefixed with mi-, including the compound units, except for ten: mulokó [10], milokó mili [20], miloko miraru [30], miloko misheshe [40], miloko mithanu [50], miloko mithanu na mosa [60], miloko mithanu na mili [70], miloko mithanu na miraru [80], and miloko mithanu na misheshe [90].
  • Compound numbers are formed starting with the ten, then the conjonction na or ni (and, with) and the unit. When composing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 20, 30 and 40, either na or ni can be used (na is mostly used on the coast, and ni in the inland). Above fifty, na links hundreds and tens, while ni links tens and units. Examples: miloko mili na thanu na mosa or miloko mili na thanu ni mosa [26], miloko mithanu ni tharu [53].
  • Hundreds are formed starting with the expresion for hundred (miloko muloko, litterally ten tens), followed by the multiplier digit prefixed with mi- (distributed for the compound digits), except for one hundred: miloko muloko [100], miloko muloko mili [200], miloko muloko miraru [300], miloko muloko misheshe [400], miloko muloko mithanu [500], miloko muloko mithanu na mosa [600], miloko muloko mithanu na mili [700], miloko muloko mithanu na miraru [800], and miloko muloko mithanu na misheshe [900].
  • One thousand is traditionally expressed by miloko muloko miloko, or ten by ten by ten, but is now replaced by álufu, loanword from the Arabic alaaf. Thousands are thus formed starting with the word álufu followed by the multiplier unit, except for one thousand: álufu [1,000], álufu pili [2,000], álufu tharu [3,000], álufu sheshe [4,000], álufu thanu [5,000]…

Write a number in full in Makhuwa

Let’s move now to the practice of the numbering rules in Makhuwa. Will you guess how to write a number in full? Enter a number and try to write it down in your head, or maybe on a piece of paper, before displaying the result.


A Numeração em Moçambique A Numeração em Moçambique
by , editors (2008)


  • A Numeração em Moçambique, by Paulus Gerdes (in Portuguese)

Bantu languages

Gwere, Kinyarwanda, Lingala, Makhuwa, Mwani, Nyungwe, Punu, Shona, Soga, Swahili, Tsonga, Tswana, Xhosa, Yao, and Zulu.

Other supported languages

As the other currently supported languages are too numerous to list extensively here, please select a language from the full list of supported languages.