Counting 1 – 100 is an essential skill when you want to learn a new language, and it’s the same for learning Chinese. The fun fact is that you only need to know 11 numbers to count to 100 in Chinese! Once you’ve mastered the basic 1 – 10 Chinese numbers, you can already count to 999 by just learning one more word – “hundred.”
This article will talk about how to write and say numbers 1 – 100 in Chinese. Let’s start counting!
Chinese Numbers 1 – 10
If you haven’t learned the Chinese Numbers 1 – 10, you should go through it for basic Chinese numbers. They are fun to learn! I’ll keep the interesting meanings in the mentioned article, and now, let’s do a quick recap of these numbers.
Easy-peasy! The “pinyin” is the way to read or say each character in Chinese. With the basic numbers above, we shall move on to learn Chinese numbers up to 99 (九十九, jiǔ shí jiǔ) which are similarly easy to learn.
In case if you are curious about number 0, it is called 零(Líng). And it is written as 〇(Líng) in simplified Chinese. They are helpful for daily uses, but we’re not talking about it in numbers 1-100. Wondering how to pronounce numbers with 0 in them? Read on, and you will know how to say these numbers ingeniously, like the way you do it in English!
Chinese Numbers 11 – 19
Numbers 11 – 19 follow a simple pattern. You basically place 10(十, shí) in front of digits 1 – 9 to form new numbers. Look at the example below:
Number 11 (十一, shí yī) is literally “ten one” / 10 + 1, which is 10(十, shí) plus 1(一, yī).
Number 12 (十二, shí èr) is literally “ten two” / 10 + 2, which is 10(十, shí) plus 2(二, èr).
Repeat the same pattern to pronounce numbers 13 – 19. Best if you could practice saying them before we continue the below!
Chinese Numbers For Tens
These numbers include 10, 20, 30, 40, and so on, similar to the 11 – 19 concept in Chinese. We do not mention the digit 0. Instead, we combine “ten” with any other numbers in the tens place.
Want some examples for better understanding? Here you go!
Number 20 (二十, èr shí) is literally “two ten,” which is 2(二, èr) and 10(十, shí).
Number 30 (三十, sān shí) is literally “three ten,” which is 3(三, sān) and 10(十, shí).
And it goes on. In Chinese, the tens numbers are similar to the pattern of hundreds and thousands. So after learning Chinese numbers for tens, you can already expect how the hundreds sound like!
Chinese Numbers 21 – 99
Notice the patterns for numbers 11 – 19, and also for numbers in tens? Now, let’s combine them to form Chinese numbers from 21 – 99.
Number 21 (二十一, èr shí yī) is literally “two ten one,” which is 2(二, èr), 10(十, shí) and 1(一, yī).
Number 36 (三十六, sān shí liù) is literally “three ten six,” which is 3(三, sān), 10(十, shí) and 6(六, liù).
Number 99 (九十九, jiǔ shí jiǔ) is literally “nine ten nine,” which is 9(九, Jiǔ), 10(十, shí) and 9(九, jiǔ).
Now you know why it is crucial to master the basic Chinese numbers 1 – 10! And from there, you can do mix and match to get the two-digits numbers you want.
Hundred in Chinese
And what about 100? In Chinese, we say hundred as 百(bǎi), so one hundred is 一百(yì bǎi). Though it comes with double zero, we don’t mention it as one-zero-zero! It’s somehow similar to English, in which we use “hundred” / “百” to say numbers in three digits.
Chinese Tones Changing Rules
If you are a bit attentive, you might find that the pinyin of 一(yī) changes to yì when we say 一百(yì bǎi). But why? Here is a little extra information for you. In Chinese, there are tone marks in pinyin, generally on the vowels with some specific rules. One character may have various pronunciations according to different cases.
In this case, 一 usually pronouns as yī. But it can also change tone! Look at how we pronounce 一 in three ways:
- Use yī when “一” is alone or a number in a series, like dates, phone number, etc…
- 2021年1月11日 (èr líng èr yī nián yī yuè shí yī rì)
- 611 8952 (liù yī yī bā jiǔ wǔ èr)
- Use yí when the following character is in the 4th tone
- 一个 (yí gè), meaning one piece of something
- 一定 (yí dìng), meaning must or certain
- Use yì when the following character is in the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd tones
- 一种 (yì zhǒng), meaning a sort of something
- 一瓶 (yì píng), meaning a bottle of something
However, Chinese people can still understand you whether you speak 一百 as yī bǎi or yì bǎi. These are some of the exciting parts about learning Chinese, which sometimes confuses new learners. Fret not – they are easy to pick up on if you learn step by step. In Maayot, we give you daily engaging stories to learn about the characters, pinyin, and their meaning. Learning Chinese has never been easier!
Congratulations on coming this far! If you learn the patterns of counting numbers in Chinese, you will find that they are not that hard to understand. And from these, you can next learn big numbers above 100.
Isn’t it fantastic? The next time you speak to your Chinese friend, you can already answer their questions about basic numbers!