In this lesson, we will introduce some basic Sino-Korean numbers. The Korean language actually has two different number systems. In a future lesson, you will about the other number system (native Korean numbers), but in this lesson, we will focus on Sino-Korean numbers. For a detailed guide on both number systems, check out our post on Sino Korean Numbers and Native Korean Numbers.
Lesson 16: Sino-Korean Numbers
Sino-Korean numbers are numbers that are derived from the Chinese language and are one of the two main number systems used in Korean. Sino-Korean numbers are used for many things such as money, dates, phone numbers, addresses, minutes, and more. For a full list, check out our guide to When To Use Sino And Native Korean Numbers.
Sino-Korean numbers are really easy to learn. Once you know some basic numbers, you will be able to work out how to say any number up to 99 in Korean. Take a look at this list of Korean numbers 1-20 and see if you can notice a pattern (hint: look at the numbers 11-20).
As you can see, numbers 11-19 all follow the same pattern. That is, they all start with 십 (ten) and are followed by the numbers 1-9. So, to say 11 in Korean, you literally say “ten one” (십일 [si-bil]), and to say 15, you say “ten five” (십오 [si-bo]), and so on.
Now, look at the number 20 (이십 [i-sip]). This is made up of 이 (two) and 십 (ten). So, 20 in Korean is literally “two ten” (이십 [i-sip]). Can you guess what 30 is? You guessed it! It’s 삼십 [sam-sip] (literally “three ten”). This pattern is used for 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, and 90.
Using this information, you can easily work out any of the Sino-numbers 1-99. For example, let’s say you want to say the number 45. To say this you would say “four ten five” in Korean. So, 45 in Korean is 사십오 [sa-si-bo]. If you wanted to 99 in Korean you would say “nine ten nine” in Korean. So, 99 in Korean is 구십구 [gu-sip-gu].
Easy right? In this next lesson, you will learn how to use these Sino-Korean numbers together with the words 월 (month) and 일 (day) to talk about the date in Korean. If you want to practice Korean numbers some more, check out our complete guide to Korean Numbers. Or if you’re ready to move on, check out the next lesson.