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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


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1-99

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


三十,四十,五十,六十,七十,八十,九十

Can you see the pattern and continue to 99?


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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


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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()(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


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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(anymorewe use (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.


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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.


(nián) - Year

(yuè) – Month

/ (hào/rì) – day, date

* is more oral


So you’d write and say the date like this for example

1993912 = 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’.


Example sentence:

Běijīng àoyùnhuì yú 2008 nián 8 yuè 8 rì kāimù.

北京奥运会于200888日开幕。

The Beijing Olympics began on 8th August 2008.

*As you can see 8 is the lucky number in China.


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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

+          (your age number)

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


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How to do some basic Math in Mandarin Chinese


(jiā) – to add/plus (+)

(jiǎn) – to subtrack/minus (-)

乘以 (chéng yǐ) – to multiply (x)

除以 (chú yǐ) – to divide (÷)

等于 (děng yú) – equals (=)


Examples

5 5 等于 10

200 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.


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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

千米(qiānmǐ)– Kilometre

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


Example Sentences

四斤苹果多少钱?

你的体重有多少? 我是59公斤。

他的个子一米八,真高。

还有1600公里才到家。

每天他喝两升水。

她买的房子是90平方米。


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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


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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 (Èr) but in certain situations it’s changed to (Liǎng). Now when is liang used?


Liang is used especially when counting things for example.

两个人

两个小时

两本书

两张电影票

etc.


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.


For example

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.


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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’.

For example

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.

For example

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.

For example

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


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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


= 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


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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 liùliùliùmeans 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 bābāmeans bye bye


484 四八四 sìbāsì means 是不是 (shì búshì) - yes or no


995 九九五 jiǔ jiǔ wǔmeans 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 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 (èrbǎiwǔ) – idiot

*Don’t use this one haha


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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.


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