THE BIG GUIDE TO NUMBERS IN MANDARIN CHINESE
“Numbers rule the universe” Pythagoras once said, and there’s certainly no overstating the importance and essentialness of numbers in all walks of life and all cultures, numbers are a language themselves, a language that exists in all other tongues and are commonly taught at the beginning stages of learning any new language. Think about it, if you’re talking about days, weeks, months, years, your age, height, weight, size, cost etc. Then numbers are crucial. And so we have prepared a comprehensive guide to learn numbers in Mandarin Chinese, everything you need to know, and some interesting facts along the way. Let’s get started.
Learning numbers in Mandarin Chinese is quite simple and logical when you get the hang of it, you just need to follow the rules. Once you’ve learnt the numbers all the way to a hundred, with the except of a few units, you practically have all the tools to reach those bigger mammoth numbers. And I’m not exaggerating either, you’ll be able to count from one to one trillion in Mandarin Chinese.
*For the purposes of this guide, the numbers will be primarily displayed with the hanzi (pinyin) = numeral / translation
一 (Yī) = 1
二 (Èr) = 2
三 (Sān) = 3
四 (Sì) = 4
五 (Wǔ) = 5
六 (Liù) = 6
七 (Qī) = 7
八 (Bā) = 8
九 (Jiǔ) = 9
十 (Shí) = 10
十一 (Shíyī) = 11
十二 (Shí'èr) = 12
十三 (Shísān) = 13
二十 (Èrshí) = 20
二十一 (Èrshíyī) = 21
二十二 (Èrshí'èr) = 22
Can you see the pattern and continue to 99?
100 - 999
百 = a hundredth
一百 (Yībǎi) = 100
*两百 (Liǎngbǎi) = 200
三百 (Sānbǎi) = 300
四百 (Sìbǎi) = 400
*五百零八 (Wǔbǎi líng bā) = 508
六百一十五 (Liùbǎi yīshí wǔ) = 615
七百二十三 (Qībǎi èrshí sān) = 723
八百三十九 (Bābǎi sānshí jiǔ) = 839
九百九十九 (Jiǔbǎi jiǔshí jiǔ) = 999
1000 - 9999
千 = a thousandth
一千 (Yīqiān) = 1000
两千 (Liǎng qiān) = 2000
三千 (Sānqiān) = 3000
四千零一 (Sìqiān líng yī) = 4001
五千零二十 (Wǔqiān líng èrshí) = 5020
六千一(百 )(Liùqiān yī(bǎi) ) = 6100
七千一百零五 (Qīqiān yībǎi líng wǔ) = 7105
八千两百二十五 (Bāqiān èrbǎi èrshí wǔ) = 8225
九千九百九十九 (Jiǔqiān jiǔbǎi jiǔshí jiǔ = 9999
How to say your phone number in Mandarin Chinese?
Let’s take a short break from counting and learn how to say your phone number in Mandarin Chinese, it’s really simple, all you need to know are numbers 0-9 and you’re good to go. You just have to make sure you pronounce each number in the sequence that makes up your phone number. In English we have a habit of abbreviating our phone numbers by grouping numbers into tens, hundreds, doubles and trebles, but in Mandarin each number needs to be pronounced.
Then there is just one important note, when pronouncing 1 in phone numbers we don’t use 一（Yī）anymorewe use 幺 (Yāo) instead. This is because the usual pronunciation of 1 sounds to similar to 7 when pronounced quickly so yao is used instead.
How to say the phone number: 18436151889
‘Yao, Ba, Si, San, liu, Yao, Wu, Yao, Ba, Ba, Jiu’
It’s that easy. Just remember to pronounce each individual number and pronounce 1 as yao.
How to say the date in Mandarin Chinese?
Again, once you get familiar with the order, it’s easy peasy. In China, the year goes first, then the month, then the day.
年 (nián) - Year
月 (yuè) – Month
号/日 (hào/rì) – day, date
*号 is more oral
So you’d write and say the date like this for example
1993年9月12号 = 12th September 1993
When pronouncing the year, it’s similar to that of saying phone numbers as each digit must be said. You cannot say ‘nineteen ninety three’ or ‘twenty twenty one’. For 1993 you have to say ‘yi jiu jiu san nian’, or you can abbreviate it to ‘jiu san nian’. For 2021, you would have to say ‘er ling er yi nian’.
Běijīng àoyùnhuì yú 2008 nián 8 yuè 8 rì kāimù.
The Beijing Olympics began on 8th August 2008.
*As you can see 8 is the lucky number in China.
How to say your age in Mandarin Chinese?
If someone asks you’re age or how old you are, you’ll be asked either of the following.
你多大？ (nǐ duō dà?)
你几岁？ (nǐ jǐ suì?)
*The latter is more likely used to ask a child
And both these questions can be answered by saying
我 + (your age number) 岁
Wǒ + (your age number) Suì
I (am) + (your age number) age
e.g. 我二十八岁 （Wǒ èrshí bā suì）- I am 28 years old
How to do some basic Math in Mandarin Chinese
加 (jiā) – to add/plus (+)
减 (jiǎn) – to subtrack/minus (-)
乘以 (chéng yǐ) – to multiply (x)
除以 (chú yǐ) – to divide (÷)
等于 (děng yú) – equals (=)
5 加 5 等于 10
200 减 50 等于 150
300 乘以 3 等于 900
1000 除以 20 等于 50
Now that wasn’t so hard was it.
Units of measurements in Mandarin Chinese
For weighing, China actually uses kilograms, however often times it’s displayed or spoken of in half a kilogram (斤), for example when you go to the supermarket/grocery store to buy some oranges, you don’t ask for 3 kilograms of oranges, but instead you ask for 6 jin’s (half kilograms).
克 (kè) – gram
毫克 (háo kè) – milligram
斤 (jīn) – 500 grams / half a kilogram
公斤 (gōng jīn) – kilogram
千克(qiānkè) – kilogram
吨 (dūn) – ton
镑 (bang) – pound
盎司 (àng sī) – ounce
For measuring height, instead of using feet and inches, in China centimetres and metres are more commonly used. And if you’ve ever used a Chinese sat navigation or been in a taxi where the driver is using one you will have heard the words mi and gongli a lot.
米 (mǐ) – metre
毫米 (háo mǐ) – millimetre
厘米 (lí mǐ) – centimetre
公里 (gōng lǐ) – Kilometre
英里 (yīng lǐ) – mile
英寸 (yīng cùn) – inch
英尺 (yīng chǐ) – foot
码 (mǎ) – yard
For measuring volume and capacity, it’s pretty much straight forward.
升 (sheng) – Litre
毫升 (háo sheng) – mililitre
加仑 (jiā lún) – Gallon
平方米 (píng fāng mǐ) – square metre
公顷 (gōng qǐng) – hectare
10,000 – 99,999,999
Let’s get back to counting!
Now here is where it gets a little complicated but don’t worry. Unlike English you can’t just say shi qian, shi yi qian, yibai qian for ten thousand, eleven thousand, one hundred thousand because in Mandarin Chinese a ten thousandth has its own unit - 万(wàn). Then after 万(wàn) there is no other unit until one hundred million, so we’ll be using 万, 千 百 and 十 to create some pretty large numbers.
万 = a ten thousandth
一万 (Yī wàn) = 10,000 *Literally one ten thousandth / 1,0000
一万零九 (Yīwàn líng jiǔ) = 10,009
一万一千 (Yīwàn yīqiān) = 11,000
一万两千 (Yīwàn liǎngqiān) = 12,000
两万两千 (Liǎngwàn liǎngqiān) = 22,000
三万三千两百 (Sānwàn sānqiān liǎngbǎi) = 33,200
四万四千两百零二 (Sìwàn sìqiān liǎngbǎi líng èr) = 44,202
五万五千两百二十 (Wǔwàn wǔqiān liǎngbǎi èrshí) = 55,220
六万六千两百二十二 (Liùwàn liùqiān liǎngbǎi èrshí èr) = 66,222
九万九千九百九十九 (Jiǔwàn jiǔqiān jiǔbǎi jiǔshí jiǔ) = 99,999
十万 = one hundred thousandth
十万 (Shí wàn) = 100,000 *literally ten ten thousandth / 10,0000
十一万 (Shíyī wàn) = 110,000
十二万 (Shí'èr wàn) = 120,000
十三万 (Shísān wàn) = 130,000
二十万 (Èrshí wàn) = 200,000
二十四万 (Èrshísì wàn) = 240,000
二十五万 (Èrshíwǔ wàn) = 250,000
二十六万 (Èrshíliù wàn) = 260,000
三十万 (Sānshí wàn) = 300,000
三十七万 (Sānshíqī wàn) = 370,000
三十八万 (Sānshíbā wàn) = 380,000
三十九万 (Sānshíjiǔ wàn) = 390,000
一百万 = one millionth / hundred ten thousandth
一百万 (Yībǎi wàn) = 1,000,000 *literally one hundred ten thousandth / 100,0000
一百零一万 (Yībǎi líng yīwàn) = 1,010,000
一百一十万 (Yībǎi yīshí wàn) = 1,100,000
两百万 (Liǎng bǎi wàn) = 2,000,000
两百二十万 (Liǎng bǎi èrshí wàn) = 2,200,000
三百万 (Sānbǎi wàn) = 3,000,000
三百三十万 （Sānbǎi sānshí wàn）= 3,000,000
九百九十九万九千九百九十九 (Jiǔbǎi jiǔshíjiǔ wàn jiǔqiān jiǔbǎi jiǔshí jiǔ) = 9,999,999
一千万 (Yīqiān wàn) = 10,000,000 *literally one thousand ten thousandth / 1000,0000
一千零一十万 (Yīqiān líng yīshí wàn) = 10,100,000
一千一百万 (Yīqiān yībǎi wàn) = 11,000,000
两千万 (Liǎng qiān wàn) = 20,000,000
两千两百万 (Liǎng qiān liǎng bǎi wàn) 22,000,000
两千两百二十万 (Liǎngqiān liǎngbǎi èrshí wàn) = 22,200,000
三千万 (Sānqiān wàn) = 30,000,000
三千三百万 (Sānqiān sānbǎi wàn) = 33,000,000
三千三百三十万 (Sānqiān sānbǎi sānshí wàn) = 33,300,000
九千万 (Jiǔqiān wàn) = 90,000,000
九千九百九十九万九千九百九十九 (Jiǔqiān jiǔbǎi jiǔshíjiǔ wàn jiǔqiān jiǔbǎi jiǔshí jiǔ) = 99,999,999
Very well done for getting this far. Let’s go through some of the important number rules that you’ve probably come across so far.
The two ways of saying the number 2 in Mandarin Chinese
I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that when learning the numbers in Mandarin Chinese there are curiously two ways of saying the number 2, and well I guess it’s kind of apt too. Just so you don’t get confused or muddled up we’ll address this now. Once you learn when to use when to use which version of 2, you won’t get muddled again.
Firstly 2 in Mandarin Chinese is 二 (Èr) but in certain situations it’s changed to 两 (Liǎng). Now when is liang used?
Liang is used especially when counting things for example.
And when counting in Mandarin, once you get to hundreds, thousands, tens of thousandths, and hundred millionths, as you will see, 百，千，万，亿 kind of act like numeral measure words and liang is used before these.
两百 (Liǎng bǎi) = 200
两千 (Liǎng qiān) = 2000
两万 (Liǎng wàn) = 20,000
In the following cases
202 would be pronounced as 两百零二
220 would be pronounced as 两百二十
222 would be pronounced as 两百二十二
2222 would be pronounced as 两千两百二十二
22,222 would be pronounced as 两万两千两百二十二
As you can see liang commonly goes before 百，千，万，亿 when referring to two of something, two hundred, two thousand, two ten thousandths (twenty thousand) etc.
However when referring to just the number 2, 12, 20, 22, or when referring to a twentieth of something then er is used.
Now it makes sense.
Making Sense of 0 in Big Numbers
There are three easy rules to make note of when pronouncing 0 in the larger numbers, and they are as follows.
If 0 corresponds to the ‘numeral measure word’ you do not need to say the ‘numeral measure word’.
5089 = 五千零八十九 (Wǔqiān líng bāshíjiǔ)
*You do not need to put 零白
Some more examples
9109 = 九千零九 (Jiǔqiān líng jiǔ)
33065 = 三万三千零六十五 （Sān wàn sānqiān líng liùshíwǔ）
60721 = 六万零七百二十一 (Liù wàn líng qībǎi èrshíyī)
80305 = 八万零三百零五 (Bā wàn líng sānbǎi líng wǔ)
If there is more than one zero juxtaposed in a number with more than 4 digits, you just pronounce one zero.
1001 = 一千零一 (Yīqiān líng yī)
*You do not say 零零
Some more examples
2002 = 两千零二 （Liǎng qiān líng èr）
30,003 = 三万零三 （Sān wàn líng sān）
400,004 = 四十万零四 （Sìshí wàn líng sì）
And if zero ends the big number, you do not pronounce the zero.
5000 = 五千 （Wǔqiān）
Some more examples
6660 = 六千六百六十 （Liùqiān liùbǎi liùshí）
7700 = 七千七百 （Qīqiān qībǎi）
12000 = 一万两千 （Yī wàn liǎng qiān）
100,000,000 – 1000,000,000,000
Onto the last leg, the big juicy exciting numbers are coming!
亿 = a hundred millionth
一亿 (Yī yì) = 100,000,000 *literally one hundred millionth / 1,0000,0000
一亿零一百万 (Yī yì líng yībǎi wàn) = 101,000,000
一亿一千万 (Yī yì yīqiān wàn) = 110,000,000
一亿一千一百万 (Yī yì yīqiān yībǎi wàn) = 111,000,000
一亿一千一百一十万 (Yī yì yīqiān yībǎi yīshí wàn) =111,100,000
两亿 (Liǎng yì) = 200,000,000
三亿 (Sān yì) = 300,000,000
九亿 (Jiǔ yì) = 900,000,000
十亿 = a ten hundredth millionth / a billionth
十亿Shí yì = 1,000,000,000 *literally ten one hundredth millionth / 10,0000,0000
十一亿 (Shí yī yì) = 1,100,000,000
十一亿零一百万 (Shíyī yì líng yībǎi wàn) = 1,101,000,000
十一亿一千万 (Shíyī yì yīqiān wàn) = 1,110,000,000
兆 = a trillionth
一兆 (Yī zhào) = 1,000,000,000,000 *literally one trillionth / 1000,0000,0000
两兆 (Liǎng zhào) = 2,000,000,000,000
三兆 (Sān zhào) = 3,000,000,000,000
Chinese Number Slang
And finally just to lighten up the mood here are some fun interesting Chinese number internet slang just so you can sound cool, hip and more native than ever. As you will see most of the numbers correspond in sound to their actual Chinese translation. Enjoy!
666 六六六 （liùliùliù）means 牛牛牛 (niúniúniú) – ‘awesome or cool’
Arguably the most popular and used one of the lot, this one invades popular culture in China especially amongst the younger generation, as if anything is cool or amazing you can start waving your hands in the air with your thumb and pinky finger raised (the Chinese representation of number 6 by hand gesture).
520 五二零 (wǔ’èrlíng) means 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ) – ‘I love you’
*This has taken China’s young netizens by storm with 20th of May now Chinese internet valentine’s day. Don’t forget to say 520 to your loved one.
88 八八 （bābā）means bye bye
484 四八四 （sìbāsì） means 是不是 (shì búshì) - yes or no
995 九九五 （jiǔ jiǔ wǔ）means 救救我 (jiù jiù wǒ) – Help me
*Usually used in a comical or ironic way
748 七四八 （qīsìbā） means 去死吧 (qùsǐba) – Go to hell, get lost, go and die
233 二三三 (èr sān sān) means 哈哈哈 (hā hā hā) – hahaha, lol
*Mimicking the sound of laughter
555 五五五 （wǔwǔwǔ） = 呜呜呜 (wūwūwū) – crying
*This really does sound like crying
530 五三零 (wǔsānlíng) = 我想你 (wǒ xiǎng nǐ) – I miss you
1314 一三一四 (yīsānyīsì) = 一生一世 (yīshēng yīshì) – forever
4242 四二四二 (sìèrsìèr) = 是啊是啊 (shìa shìa) – yes
7456 七四五六 (qīsìwǔliù) = 气死我了 (qìsǐ wǒle) – I’m angry
918 九幺八 (jiǔyāobā) = 加油吧 (jiāyóu ba) – Good luck, come on
514 五幺四 wǔyāosì = 我要死 (wǒ yào sǐ) – I want to die
*For those times when a little drama or exaggeration is needed :)
56 五六 (wǔliù) = 无聊 (wúliáo) – boring
250 二百五 (èrbǎiwǔ) – idiot
*Don’t use this one haha
And that’s, we’ve reached the end of our mammoth guide for learning numbers in Mandarin Chinese, now you can count the stars in the night sky. For 1-to-1 online Chinese lessons with certified native Chinese tutors don’t forget to sign up for your free trial lesson through the following link: https://www.instantmandarin.com/signup
Learn more than how to count up to a billion in Mandarin Chinese, learn to reach fluency in Mandarin Chinese.