The Chinese Numbers Ultimate Guide: How to Count from 1-1000 and Beyond

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

This is a great goal, because you can discuss a lot of topics once you know your Chinese 数字  (shù zì) — numbers.

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!), how to count in Chinese and how to use numbers in everyday sentences.

Contents

 

Chinese Numbers for 0-10

red chart that teaches the chinese numbers from 0 to 10

The best part about numbers 0-10 in Chinese is that they’ll help you remember every number after them. Think of these numbers as building blocks for numbers 11 and beyond.

NumberChinesePinyin
0 líng
1
2 èr
2 liǎng
3 sān
4
5
6 liù
7
8
9 jiǔ
10 shí

Now you’re probably asking: 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 for 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.

NumberChinesePinyin
11 十一 shí yī
12 十二 shí èr
13 十三 shí sān
14 十四 shí sì
15 十五 shí wǔ
16 十六 shí liù
17 十七 shí qī
18 十八 shí bā
19 十九 shí jiǔ
20 二十 èr shí

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 for 21-99

Let’s start with counting by tens.

NumberChinesePinyin
30 三十 sān shí
40 四十 sì shí
50 五十 wǔ shí
60 六十 liù shí
70 七十 qī shí
80 八十 bā shí
90 九十 jiǔ shí

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.

NumberChinesePinyin
21 二十一 èr shí yī
22 二十二 èr shí èr
23 二十三 èr shí sān
24 二十四 èr shí sì
25 二十五 èr shí wǔ
26 二十六 èr shí liù
27 二十七 èr shí qī
28 二十八 èr shí bā
29 二十九 èr shí jiǔ

Notice the pattern? The equation is simple:

The number 2-9 + 十 + the number 1-9

Chinese Numbers for 100-999

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

NumberChinesePinyin
100 一百 yī bǎi
200 二百 èr bǎi
200 两百 liǎng bǎi
300 三百 sān bǎi
400 四百 sì bǎi
500 五百 wǔ bǎi
600 六百 liù bǎi
700 七百 qī bǎi
800 八百 bā bǎi
900 九百 jiǔ bǎi

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 shí) — 110

一百一十三 (yī bǎi shí sān) — 113

一百一十五 (yī bǎi shí wǔ) — 115

一百一十八 (yī bǎi shí bā) — 118

一百一十九 (yī bǎi shí jiǔ) — 119

The pattern is as follows:

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

Chinese Numbers for 1,000 and Beyond

red chart that teaches chinese numbers from 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.

EnglishChinesePinyin
thousand qiān
ten thousand wàn
hundred thousand 十万 shí wàn
million 百万 bǎi wàn
hundred million 亿
billion 十亿 shí yì

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

Measure words are an essential part of Chinese grammar.

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 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.

ChinesePinyinUsageExample
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

How to Use Chinese Numbers in Conversations

Now that you know how to count in Chinese, let’s look at how Chinese numbers are used in real-life conversations—such as giving your phone number, your age or asking for the price of something.

Phone Numbers in Chinese

First, let’s start with the basics. To ask for someone’s phone number, say:

你的电话号码是多少?
(nǐ de diàn huà hào mǎ shì duō shǎo?)
What is your phone number?

电话号码 (diàn huà hào mǎ) means “phone number.”

So to answer, you’d say:

我的电话号码是……
(wǒ de diàn huà hào mǎ shì…)
My phone number is…

Giving your phone number in Chinese is the same as in English. Simply say the digits one by one until you’ve completed the number sequence. For example:

我的电话号码是8319036452。
(wǒ de diàn huà hào mǎ shì bā sān yāo jiǔ líng sān liù sì wǔ èr.)
My phone number is 8319036452.

When people tell phone numbers, the number 1 (yī) is often pronounced as “yāo”. Do you know why? -The pronunciation of 1 (yī) is too similar to 7 (qī) and it often brings trouble. To make things easier, people pronounced 1 as “yāo”.

Age and Birthdays in Chinese

To express your age in Mandarin Chinese, you can use one of the following two patterns:

我……
(wǒ…)
I am…(years old)

我……岁
(wǒ…suì)
I am…years old

In my personal experience, the second one seems to be the most common.

For example, if you are 25 years old, you would say:

我二十五。
(wǒ èr shí wǔ.)
I am 25 (years old).

我二十五岁。
(wǒ èr shí wǔ suì.)
I am 25 years old.

To say your birthday in Mandarin, you can use the following pattern:

我的生日是……年……月……日
(wǒ de shēngrì shì…nián…yuè…rì)
My birthday is on the…of…in the year…

In Chinese, people mostly use the order “year-month-date”.

For example:

我的生日是一九九零年五月十日。
(wǒ de shēng rì shì yī jiǔ jiǔ líng nián wǔ yuè shí rì。)
My birthday is on May 10th, 1990.

To learn more about how to talk about dates in Chinese, I highly recommend checking out this post:

 


The Complete Guide to Months in Chinese (and the Lunar Calendar) | FluentU Chinese

Learn how to say all 12 months in Chinese, as well as the Chinese holidays. Additionally, we cover years and dates in Mandarin, along with useful phrases for describing…

Talking About Price in Chinese

First you need to know that the currency of China is (yuán). But when talking about prices, the word (kuài) is often used instead of 元.

You’d use this simple formula to say how much something costs in Chinese:

。。。块
(…kuài)
…yuan

 For example, if you want to say something costs 50 yuan, you would say:

五十块
(wǔ shí kuài)
50 yuan

If the price includes smaller units such as (jiǎo) or (fēn), you can add them after the yuan part. For example:

三块五角
(sān kuài wǔ jiǎo)
3 yuan and 50 cents

You can check out this blog post to learn more about money in Chinese:

 


58 Words and Phrases to Talk About Money in Chinese with Ease | FluentU Chinese Blog

钱 (qián) is money in Chinese, but do you know how to talk about financial exchanges and count money properly in Chinese? We’ll help you learn Chinese words and phrases…

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]

How to Count Chinese Numbers with Your Fingers

Did you know that counting with your hands in Chinese is different than in English?

In English, we count to 10 using all 10 fingers—or, both hands. But in Chinese, you only need one hand to count to 10!

Here’s a simple tutorial from the Yoyo Chinese YouTube channel that explains how to count to 10 using Chinese hand gestures:

Chinese Numbers Practice Quiz

Now it’s time to put your new vocabulary to the test! Translate the following numbers and phrases of this quiz, then check your answers below.

1. 20

2. 35

3. 13

4. 143

5. 1,981

6. three apples

7. four people

8. I am 23 years old

9. 63 RMB/yuan

10. 5th question

11. My birthday is November 10

 

Answers:

1. 二十 (èr shí)

2. 三十五 (sān shí wǔ)

3. 十三 (shí sān)

4. 一百四十三 (yī bǎi sì shí sān)

5. 一千九百八十一 (yī qiān jiǔ bǎi bā shí yī)

6. 三个苹果 (sān gè píng guǒ)

7. 四个人(sì gè rén)/四位 (sì wèi)

8. 我二十三岁 (wǒ èr shí sān suì)

9. 六十三块 (liù shí sān kuài)/六十三元(liú shí sān yuán)

10. 我的生日是十一月十日 (wǒ de shēng rì shì shí yī yuè shí rì)

Resources to Learn More About Chinese Numbers

Numbers are used to talk about lots of topics in Chinese!

You can continue expanding your Chinese numbers knowledge with these resources:

 


Days of the Week in Chinese: The Standard, Modern and Colloquial Forms, Plus Sample Dialogues | FluentU Chinese Blog

Want to learn the days of the week in Chinese? We’ll teach you all three ways to say the days in Chinese: xīng qī, zhōu and lǐ bài (including pronunciation…

 


How to Tell Time in Chinese: Vocabulary, Times of the Day, Expressions and More | FluentU Chinese Blog

If you want to learn how to tell the time in Chinese, read this ultimate guide. You’ll find how to tell time, count the hours, minutes and quarters, use time-related…

 


The Top 10 Chinese Measure Words You Need to Know: 包 (bāo), 对 (duì) and More | FluentU Chinese Blog

Learn all about the most common Chinese measure words and how to use them correctly so you can be confident with your Chinese. Cigarettes, pants, people, beers—there are…

 


Chinese Number Slang: The Essential Guide to Mandarin Numerical Speak | FluentU Chinese Blog

Chinese number slang is a big part of Chinese internet slang, so it’s worth any Mandarin learner’s time. From 520 (I love you) to 250 (idiot), discover the meaning behind…

 


How to Do Basic Math in Chinese | FluentU Chinese Blog

Learn how to do basic math in Chinese with this comprehensive guide that tackles addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, plus decimals, fractions and…

The best way to solidify your new Chinese numbers knowledge is by using them in real life, and absorbing how native speakers do.

Luckily, you don’t have to go to China to do so. You can use native material online, like the videos on FluentU.

FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.

Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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Congratulations—you can now count to one billion in Mandarin Chinese!

Simple, right?

Keep practicing and soon, you’ll find Chinese numbers come to you easily.

And One More Thing...

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