Counting in Chinese only needs 11 words to get to 100


Learning how to count in Chinese is that simple. And why does it need to be more complicated? Counting in Chinese is comparatively easier than other languages because the first 100 numbers are represented with only 11 words.

The characters below are numbers in Chinese from 1 to 10.

一 (1)

二 (2) èr   

三 (3) sān  

四 (4) sì    

五 (5) wǔ      

六 (6) liù    

七 (7) qī   

八 (8) bā  

九 (9) jiǔ  

十 (10) shí

You can now count to 99

Once you get the hang of the 10 characters above you can pretty much count up to 99. However you still need to learn the ways to say the multiples of 10 up to 90. Twenty is: 

20 is 二十, or two tens

Chinese takes a reductionist approach. Twenty is described as two tens while thirty is described as three tens.

33 is 三十 which is three tens

Remember you state the number of “tens” first then state “ten” to show that it is to the tenth place. The list below shows the multiples of ten you need to know to count to 90.

二十 (20) (èr shí)

三十 (30) (sān shí)

四十 (40) (sì shí)

五十 (50) (wǔ shí)

六十 (60) (liù shí)

七十 (70) (qī shí)

八十 (80) (bā shí)

九十 (90) (jiǔ shí)

Numbers not multiples of 10

Now you can say any number between 1 to 99. All you need to do is to say the tenth place of the number followed by the value in the oneth place. For instance, 45 is:

45 is 四十(four tens)plus 五(five)

Let’s take another example, 99.

99 is 九十 (nine tens) plus 九 (nine)

Once you grasp the logic you can count up to 99. One hundred is pronounced as 一百 (yī bǎi). 百(bǎi) indicates that the number is to the hundredth place. 

100 is 一百, the 11th word

You now know the basics of counting in Chinese! Simple right? If you want to learn more, check out and sign up for a free 1-on-1 live tutoring session now!








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