Chinese Numbers 1-1000 and Beyond: Your Guide to Counting in Chinese

If you recently started learning Chinese, odds are learning to count is one of your first goals.

Chinese numbers are used for slang, days of the week, listing quantities, talking about money, months of the year, telling time and so much more.

Luckily, they follow a pattern that’s easy to learn and makes logical sense.

Here’s your guide to Chinese numbers from one to 1,000 (and more!) as well as how to use them in everyday sentences.



Chinese Numbers 0-10

The best part about these numbers is that they’ll help you remember every number after them. Think of these numbers as building blocks for numbers 11 and beyond.


Why are there two ways to say the number two?

When counting, use 二. When listing quantities, use 两.

For example, 两个人 (liǎng ge rén) is the correct way to say “two people.” But, if you were counting “one, two, three…” you’d say 一,二,三.

Chinese Numbers 11-20

Remember how I said that numbers one through 10 are building blocks? Well, you’re about to see that in action.

When you count beyond 10, you continue to use numbers one through 10 along with basic addition.

For example, the number 11 is 十一 (shí yī). The literal translation of this number is “10 plus one.”

Let’s take a look.

十一shí yī11
十二shí èr12
十三shí sān13
十四shí sì14
十五shí wǔ15
十六shí liù16
十七shí qī17
十八shí bā18
十九shí jiǔ19
二十èr shí20

Notice that the number 20 literally means “two and 10.”

Easy, right? The good news is that every other number from 30-99 follows this pattern.

Chinese Numbers 21-99

Let’s start with counting by tens.

三十sān shí30
四十sì shí40
五十wǔ shí50
六十liù shí60
七十qī shí70
八十bā shí80
九十jiǔ shí90

To form the number, just think of it as a multiplication problem.

For example, the number 50 is five and 10 combined, as if to say “five times 10.” The number 80 is the numbers eight and 10 combined, such as “eight times 10.”

But what about forming numbers like 22, 57, 68 or 99?

Take a look at numbers 21 to 29.

二十一èr shí yī21
二十二èr shí èr22
二十三èr shí sān23
二十四èr shí sì24
二十五èr shí wǔ25
二十六èr shí liù26
二十七èr shí qī27
二十八èr shí bā28
二十九èr shí jiǔ29

Notice the pattern? The equation is simple:

The number 2-9 + 十 + the number 1-9

Chinese Numbers 100-999

Counting from 100 to 999 is about as easy as counting from 21-99. Let’s take a look at the pattern:

一百yī bǎi100
二百èr bǎi200
两百liǎng bǎi200
三百sān bǎi300
四百sì bǎi400
五百wǔ bǎi500
六百liù bǎi600
七百qī bǎi700
八百bā bǎi800
九百jiǔ bǎi900

Pretty simple, right? The formula is as follows: the number one through nine plus (bǎi) — hundred.

Now, let’s take a look at how to form numbers such as 101, 129, 146 and so on.

一百零一 (yī bǎi líng yī) — 101

一百零二 (yī bǎi líng èr) — 102

一百二十九 (yī bǎi èr shí jiǔ) — 129

一百四十六 (yī bǎi sì shí liù) — 146

四百五十八 (sì bǎi wǔ shí bā) — 458

九百九十九 (jiǔ bǎi jiǔ shí jiǔ) — 999

Notice the pattern: a number one through nine plus 百, then a number zero through nine plus 十 and then a final number zero through nine.

However, keep in mind that to count from numbers 101 to 109, you must add a 零. For example:

一百零一 (yī bǎi líng yī) — 101

一百零二 (yī bǎi líng èr) — 102

一百零九 (yī bǎi líng jiǔ) — 109

When counting from 110 to 119, it’s a little different:

一百一十 (yī bǎi yī shí) — 110

一百一十三 (yī bǎi yī shí sān) — 113

一百一十五 (yī bǎi yī shí wǔ) — 115

一百一十八 (yī bǎi yī shí bā) — 118

一百一十九 (yī bǎi yī shí jiǔ) — 119

The pattern is as follows:

The number 1-9 + 百 + 一 + the number 10-19

Chinese Numbers 1,000 and Beyond

So far, the patterns of Chinese numbers have been pretty easy to understand. The number system has followed a logical order, and odds are you feel comfortable forming your own numbers from zero to 999.

But above 999, Chinese numbers can get a bit tricky.

In English, we continue putting the word “thousand” after numbers one through nine to count to one million. But in Chinese, there’s a new word for ten thousand. After we reach that number, we never use the word “thousand” again.

Let’s take a look.

wànten thousand
十万shí wànhundred thousand
百万bǎi wànmillion
亿hundred million
十亿shí yìbillion

In Chinese, 1,000 to 9,000 is 一千 (yī qiān) to 九千 (jiǔ qiān).

However, 11,000 is not 十一千 (shí yī qiān). The correct way to say 11,000 is 一万一千 (yī wàn yī qiān), which is literally “10,000 plus 1,000.”

Similarly, the number 17,000 is 一万七千 (yī wàn qī qiān), which is 10,000 plus 7,000.

So, to get from 10,000 to 90,000, the formula is as follows:

The number 1-9 + 万

For example, the number 50,000 is 五万 (wǔ wàn). The number 30,000 is 三万 (sān wàn).

What about 58,000? That would be 五万八千 (wǔ wàn bā qiān).

The same applies to numbers 十万 (shí wàn) — a hundred thousand to 十亿 (shí yì) — billion.

10 Must-know Chinese Measure Words
chinese numbers

In Chinese, you can’t simply say “I want two apples.” You have to insert a measure word in between the number two and the word “apples.”

Leaving out measure words is one of the few errors in Chinese that many native speakers won’t be able to look past using context alone.

Although you might think leaving out a measure word isn’t a big deal, it could well mean that native speakers simply won’t understand what you’re trying to say.

Let’s dive into the first 10 measure words you should learn.

zhīcounting animals两只小狗 (liǎng zhī xiǎo gǒu) — two puppies
jiāncounting rooms三间房 (sān jiān fáng) — three rooms
counting plants and trees八棵树 (bā kē shù) — eight trees
zhāngcounting anything flat一张纸 (yì zhāng zhǐ) — one piece of paper
shuāngcounting pairs一双袜子 (yì shuāng wà zi) — one pair of socks
liàngcounting vehicles三辆车 (sān liàng chē) — three cars
běncounting books两本书 (liǎng běn shū) — two books
jiācounting buildings, gatherings and establishments一家公司 (yì jiā gōng sī) — one company
wèicounting people三位老师 (sān wèi lǎo shī) — three teachers

And lastly, there’s (ge/gè) — generic measure word.

This measure word can be used to count anything. If you find yourself stuck in a situation where you don’t know which measure word to use, just use (ge/gè).

For example:

两个苹果 (liǎng ge píng guǒ) — two apples

Ordinal Numbers in Chinese

Chinese ordinal numbers show placement, rank or sequences of nouns.

For example, ordinal numbers in English are words like “first,” “second,” “third,” “fourth” and so on.

In Chinese, this is really simple. Instead of tacking a few extra letters to the end of the number like in English, just add (dì) before the number.

For example:

第一次 (dì yī cì) — 1st time

第二季 (dì èr jì) — 2nd season (of a TV show)

第三个问题 (dì sān gè wèn tí) — 3rd question

Approximate Numbers in Chinese

When we aren’t sure of an exact number, we use words like “a few,” “about,” “around” and “[number]-ish” in English.

In Chinese, you can use these expressions:

几个 (jǐ ge) — a few, several (for numbers between 1-9)

[number ≥10]  (duō) — more than [number ≥10]

十几 (shí jǐ) — more than 10, 10 and some odd… (i.e. “10 and some odd hours”)

几十 (jǐ shí) — a number between 20 and 99

三五个 (sān wǔ gè) — a colloquial way of saying “a few” (literally “three five”)

[number] 左右 / 差不多 (zuǒ yòu / chà bù duō) — about/around [number]


Following a few strategic tips and recognizing number patterns will make the process of learning Chinese numbers a whole lot easier.

Happy counting!

Enter your e-mail address to get your free PDF!

We hate SPAM and promise to keep your email address safe