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Lesson 14 How to count things in Chinese

Posted by Grace Feng on February 11, 2012

How to count basic numbers in Chinese?

If we need to talk about counting things in Chinese, then naturally we need to start with numbers in Chinese first. Please look at the table below to learn the basic 0 to 10 numbers in Chinese?

 

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
líng èr sān liù jiǔ shí
 [mp3j track=”L14-yi-er.mp3″]

 

You also need to learn the following new words before you move on. Let’s take a few moment to make friends with them. You can always use the estroke tool below to practice the writing of each one of them:

bǎi qiān wàn
百 (hundred)
千 (thousand)
万 (ten thousand)
[mp3j track=”L14-bai.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L14-qian.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L14-wan.mp3″]
běn shū
亿 (hundred million)
本 (quantifier)
书 (book)
 [mp3j track=”L14-yi.mp3″]  [mp3j track=”L14-ben.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L14-shu.mp3″]
píng guǒ shé tuǐ
苹果 (apple)
 蛇 (snake)
腿 (leg)
[mp3j track=”L14-ping-guo.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L14-she.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L14-tui.mp3″]
lǎo hǔ
鸡 (chicken)
老虎 (tiger)
个 (quantifier)
[mp3j track=”L14-ji.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L14-lao-hu.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L14-ge.mp3″]
tiáo zhǐ
(quantifier) (quantifier)
[mp3j track=”L14-tiao.mp3″] [mp3j track=”L14-zhi.mp3″]

 

How to count numbers greater than 10 in Chinese?

 

Numbers greater then ten is counted this way:

11, 12, 13 ……

shí·yī, shí’èr, shísān ……

十一,  十二,  十三 ……

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When it reaches the next ten, write tens and the subsequent numbers as below:

20, 21, 22, 23 …….

èrshí, èrshí yī, èrshí èr, èrshí sān …..

二十,  二十一,  二十二,  二十三 …..

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When it comes to hundred:

100, 101, 102 …

yī bǎi, yī bǎi líng yī, yī bǎi líng èr ……

一百,  一百零一,  一百零二 ……

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When it reaches one thousand, it becomes:

1000, 1001, …… 1039 … 1341 …

yī qiān, yī qiān líng yī, …… yī qiān líng sānshí jiǔ …… yī qiān sān bǎi sì shí·yī ……

一千,  一千零一,  …… 一千零三十九 …… 一千三百四十一 ……

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 

Whenever there’s one or more consecutive zeros in the middle of those digits, replace all zeros with “零” in Chinese.

 

If you move greater beyond thousand, then you’ll meet “万”:

10000 …… 10020……

yī wàn…… yī wàn líng èrshí……

一万…… 一万零二十……

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If we keep going, you’ll see million and billion as well:

1 million = 1000,000

In Chinese, you say:

yī bǎiwàn

一百万

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Then what about 1 billion?

1 billion = 1000,000,000

In Chinese, you say:

shíyì

十亿

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Please be aware, “billion” is NOT equal to “亿”, it equals to “十亿”. This has been an common mistake for Chinese student when they learn English.

What are Chinese quantifiers?

 

Now you’ve got the concept of how to count in Chinese. However, you also need to know what is the right quantifier to use when you talk about things quantified. For example, to say “five books”, you can’t just say “五书”, you need to say “五本书 (wǔ běn shū)”. “本” is the quantifier you need to know. It’s normally used for “book like” things.

There are a bunch of quantifiers in Chinese that you need to learn, but I’ll focus on this topic in a separate lesson. In this lesson, you only need to remember the most frequently used quantifiers: “个” “条” and “只”.

“个” is used for most things that can be quantified, such as “九个人(jiǔ gèrén)”, “三个苹果 (sān gè píngguǒ)”……

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“条” is used for things with long shape, such as “五条蛇 (wǔ tiáo shé)”, “两条腿 (liǎng tiáo tuǐ)”

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“只” is mostly used for animals, such as “六只鸡 (liù zhǐ jī)”, “四只老虎 (sì zhǐ lǎohǔ)”

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As a practice, try to type any random combination of the Chinese numbers you just learned into www.google.com and search for Chinese articles that have numbers in it. See if you can figure out how much it is.

Have fun and see you next time!

 

Related posts:

Lesson 1 Things to know before you start to learn Chinese language
Reading, Listening and Speaking practice 2
Reading, Listening and Speaking practice 4

 

Category: JLC Chinese grammar lessons

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4 Responses to “Lesson 14 How to count things in Chinese”

  1. nothing

    苏:

    06-19-2015 5:23 am

    Dear 老师,

    I guess you misspell the 亿 as “ten million”. In fact I think 一亿 is “100 million”.
    Really thank you for dedication and hard work for free valuable Chinese courses. I mainly use your lessons as my primary mean of learning Chinese. You are really nice 老师 and your topics are widely covered. 谢谢您的帮助

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      06-20-2015 3:59 am

      You’re right, 苏, that’s a mistake. Thank you for letting me know, I just corrected it.

      谢谢你的留言, 它让我很开心, 希望你能坚持学中文。:-)

      Grace

      Reply

  2. nothing

    马卡特:

    12-03-2016 3:50 pm

    我很高兴认识您老师, 我是南苏丹学生在南理工大学,我想学习汉语但是不可以,现在您帮助我。我认为它帮我不少学习。非常感谢。

    Reply

    • nothing

      Grace Feng:

      12-07-2016 5:05 am

      欢迎你, 马卡特!

      不用谢, 我很高兴帮到你。

      Grace

      Reply

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