counting in Korean…

this is a thing that i find not that easy to fully grasp. the process of counting itself is not complicated but you have to know when to use Native Korean numbers and when to use Sino-Korean numbers. for example, if you want to say your age, you HAVE TO use Native Korean numbers. using Sino Korean numbers might be considered as really rude. i’ve met a native Korean who told me when he was young his grandfather would slap him (if you wonder, i don’t know how hard!!! lol) if he’d use Sino-Korean numbers to tell someone’s age… personally, i found it really difficult to remember Native Korean numbers… also, i’ve checked different blogs and pages and people have different ways of explaining the usage of each system. i think defining the usage for a foreigner is a bit confusing and as a foreigner, i’m probably better off remembering what to use in such and such situation… so here’s what i’ve came down to, in terms of number usage, so far:


age (24 years old => 스무네 살; 87 years old => 여든 일곱살)
countdown (1… 2… 3… =>하나… 둘… 셋…; 5… 4… 3… => 다섯… 넷… 셋…)
hours (to tell the time like: 2pm =>2시 or 두 시)
objects (40 items => 마흔 게; 20 books => 책 스무 권)
people (for example counting the number of people in a bus: 하나… 둘… 셋…; 마흔여섯 명)


algebra-maths (9×2=18 => 구 이 십팔)
countdown (confusing here, yes, i’ve heard it as well as native numbers)
dates (February, 27th => 2월 27일 or 이월 이십칠일)
minutes (20 minutes => 이십 분)
money (5.000 KRW => 오천 원)

also, like in some other languages, Korean use counters to count different kinds of items depending on the shape, the usage, the material… they have “tons” of it. through lessons, dramas and movies, i’ve noticed those that would come out very often:

살 (age)
권 (books)
병 (bottles)
개 (general counter for things, items)
잔 (cups, glasses)
일, 날 (days)
시 (hours)
장 (paper layer: photos, pages, tickets,…)
분, 명, 사람 (people)
년 (years)

please, correct me if i’m wrong…

Practive counting with Native Korean Numbers
Practive counting with Sino Korean Numbers
Learn your counters in Korean

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