Chinese Numbers: How To Count From Zero To One Million
- Written byJasmine Chiam
- Read time13 mins
Learning numbers in Mandarin Chinese is one of the first few things any learner should pick up.
Whether you’re talking about money, prices, time, days of the week, or dates, you’ll need to understand the number system in Chinese.
It may be interesting to note that people in China and Taiwan don’t necessarily use Chinese characters when writing out numbers.
Often, they’ll use the Arabic numerals as well (0, 1, 2, 3, 4…), which happens to be the most widely adopted numerical system in the world.
That’s because this numbering system is quick and easy to use.
But of course, Chinese characters are still used to denote numbers for various settings, such as checks, banknotes, legal papers, and ceremonial occasions.
And either way, you’ll still need to know how to talk about numbers for your day-to-day conversations. There’s no escaping it.
But thankfully, the numbering system in Chinese isn’t too complicated to grasp.
This guide covers how to count from zero to a million in Mandarin Chinese.
But before we get into big numbers, let’s start with the basics.
Chinese Numbers: 0 to 10
If you want to be able to use numbers in Mandarin Chinese, it all comes down to nailing the numbers 0 to 10.
The number 1 in Chinese is 一 (yī).
Yes, it’s just one horizontal line.
The number 2 is 二 (èr), and 3 is 三 (sān).
Notice a pattern?
Learning Chinese isn’t that difficult after all… right?
Well, judging by what’s been covered so far, you may be tempted to use four horizontal lines to represent 4. But hold your horses.
Everything after 3 is no longer as straightforward.
Here’s how to count from 0 to 10 in Mandarin Chinese.
On an important note, it is crucial that you get the pinyin correct when pronouncing any number (or any word for that matter).
If you haven’t gotten the basics of Chinese pinyin down yet, it’s best to check out some Mandarin Chinese learning resources to fortify your basics first.
Knowing how to pronounce Chinese words correctly is crucial because a slight change in tone can completely alter the meaning of the word.
For instance, new learners tend to mix 四 (sì) and 十 (shí) up due to their similar pronunciations.
Another thing to note is regarding the number 2.
When counting or talking about numbers in general (phone numbers, address, etc.), you will use 二 (èr).
However, when referring to the quantity or measure of something, you will utilize 两 (liǎng) instead.
This also means “two.”