How to count Korean numbers – 고유어

Last time, you studied how to count Korean numbers in The Sino-Korean numbers.

So this time, let’s study everything about The Native-Korean numbers.

I mentioned it last time, but The Sino-Korean numbers come from the Chinese number system, but the Native Korean number you will learn this time is the unique number system of Korean and has a different usage from The Sino-Korean numbers system.

Why there are two Korean number systems

Why does Korean have two number systems?

That’s because of the long history of Korea and the influence of Chinese, we currently maintain two number systems.

The Sino-Korean numbers system has been used for a very long time, so it is being used together.

The Native-Korean numbers system is a relatively recent number system.

When to use The Sino-Korean numbers and The Native-Korean numbers

There are two number systems in Korean, many Korean learners get confused about which number system to use and when.

It’s hard to think about which number system to use in every situation, so if you review as much as you can and listen to a lot of Korean dramas, you’ll get used to it.

I have summarized which number system is used in which situation.

when to use The Sino-Korean numbers system

  • Count number
  • Count money
  • Say the phone number

When to use The Native-Korean numbers system

  • Count things or people
  • Say your age
  • Say the time

There are various situations besides this, but I have summarized the cases when traveling or using them in everyday life.

I’ll organize and add more later.

So, let’s study The Native Korean numbers system.

The Native Korean numbers system Chart

The Native-Korean numbers system uses only numbers from 1 to 99.


You may find it more difficult than the The Sino-Korean numbers you learned last time.

This is because most numbers have two syllables.

As I’ll explain later, The Native-Korean numbers system also has rules similar to The Sino-Korean numbers system, so if you practice a lot, you should be able to say all the numbers easily.

How to count 1 to 10 in Korean

Let’s look at the numbers 1 through 10 again.

In The Sino-Korean numbers system, all the numbers from 1 to 10 are made up of one syllable, but in The Native Korean numbers system, many numbers are made up of two syllables.

So, many Korean learners have a lot of difficulty with The Native Korean numbers system at first.

However, it is easy to learn and use if you know where to use it and the rules I give you.


How to count 10 to 100 in Korean.

If you memorize the numbers from 1 to 10 in The Native Korean numbers system like The Sino-Korean numbers system, you can say the numbers from 11 to 19 right away.

The difference between The Native Korean numbers system and The Sino-Korean numbers system is the difference in how to read multiples of 10.

For example, if you read the number 11, read it as “ten(열) one(하나).” This is the same as the rules of The Sino-Korean numbers system.

For example, if you read ‘20’ in The Sino-Korean numbers, it read (two(이)-ten(십)).

However, in The Native Korean numbers system, all numbers in multiples of 10 have unique names.

So let’s rearrange the numbers that are multiples of 10.


The rules of the Native Korean numbers system

Last time, I told you the rules to easily learn The Sino-Korean numbers system.

So, this time, I’ll explain it more easily.

The Native Korean numbers system is the same as speaking numbers in English.

To sum it up:

  • Represents a number in the tens digit.
  • Says the ones digit number.

For example, let’s read ’31’.

In English it is read as ‘thirty-one’ and in Korean it is read as ‘서른-하나’.

So, to summarize, if you memorize the one’s digit and the tens’ digit and know when to use them, you’ll be able to learn them easily.

The counting numbers

In The Native Korean numbers, it is abbreviated when counting people or things.

For example, if you have one apple, say “사과 한 개” not “사과 하나 개”

The corresponding numbers are:

  • 하나 -> 한
  • 둘 -> 두
  • 셋 -> 세
  • 넷 -> 네

when to use The Native Korean numbers 

Let’s look at specific examples of when and how to use The Native Korean numbers.

The Counting people

In our daily life, we often count the number of people.

‘명’ is used after numbers when counting people.

  • In korean, multiple people can ride together with one card when riding a bus.
    You just have to tell the driver how many people there are.
    “여섯 명이에요. (Six)”
  • When purchasing a ticket at an amusement park ticket office When an employee says, “어떻게 도와드릴까요? (How can I help you?)” you can answer “어른 셋, 아이 둘이요.(Three adults, two children)”

The Counting things

We also often count things like product.

‘개’ is used after numbers when counting things.

Buying something at a restaurant:

  • 사과 한 개 주세요. (An apple please.)
  • 물 두 개 주세요. (two waters please.)
  • 저 사탕 열 개 주세요. (Ten of those candies, please.)
  • 이 아이스트림 다섯 개 주세요. (Please give me five of these ice creams.)

Saying your age

We use The Native Korean numbers system when to say age.

Question:몇 살이에요?
How old are you?
Answer:다섯 살이에요.
I’m 5 years old.
열 살이에요.
I’m 10 years old.
서른-한 살이에요.
I’m 31 years old.
마흔 살이에요.
I’m 40 years old.
쉰 살이에요.
I’m 50 years old.
예순-일곱 살이에요.
I’m 67 years dol.

Saying the time

One of the things that many Korean learners find difficult is ‘telling the time’.

This is because both The Sino-Korean numbers system and The Native-Korean numbers system are used when telling time.

However, I will explain in a way that is easy for you to understand.

  • When talking about hours, ‘The Native-Korean numbers system is used.
  • When talking about minutes, use ‘The Sino-Korean numbers system’.

In Korean, you can add ‘시’ after the number when saying hour, and ‘분’ after the number when saying minute.

1:05 AM
3:15 PM세시 십오분
5:39 PM다섯시 삼십구분
11:45 PM열한시 사십오분

Wrap Up

Today, we learned about the Native Korean number system.

The Native Korean number system is both similar and different from the Sino-Korean number system, so it’s important to learn the differences so you can use them in appropriate situations.

One last tip, and one of my favorite things about learning Korean, or any language for that matter, is that you shouldn’t be afraid to be wrong.

Because if you’re too scared to keep speaking, you’re not going to improve your Korean anytime soon.

And don’t hesitate to speak because Koreans understand you even if you say something wrong!!!

Until next time, and thanks for reading.