I read this article about the use of numbers in Korean: Number in korean This article seemed to suggest the following order of importance: Hanja ,Sino-Korean , Native Korean and Ordinal. I understand that Hanja is from China, but the others I think are from Korean. What is the system I should learn first?

Everyone tells me always "you should learn china number first" but my question is what is the system more important for learn first?


Learning hanja should be the last in terms of priority.

As much as possible, you should try to learn Sino-Korean numbers and Native Korean numbers together. Both are used extensively in Korean, depending on what you are trying to say. If you have to choose just one, I would suggest Native Korean numbers since these will allow you to count ("Can you count to ten in Korean?") and will allow you to relatively easily learn the ordinal numbers.

Note that outside of age, Native Korean numbers are not used much past 20 or so. In this regard, the Sino-Korean numbers are going to be most useful.

I would focus on counting to 20 in both Sino- and Native Korean, then go from there based on what you want to say.

  • why hanja the last? – simon Dec 5 '18 at 8:24
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    In daily use, hanja is probably the least useful number system for a beginner to use. Hanja cannot be used in spoken Korean and your average beginner will not encounter anything that relies on knowing hanja. Hanja numbers are also something that is pretty easy to naturally pick up on the side as you need them. – Vladhagen Dec 5 '18 at 15:52

For math, definitely for Sino korean number first, it's pretty much impossible for you to use native Korean number to use in math unless you are learning very early elementary school math(K1~K3 I guess?)

Native Korean number can be used for daily conversation or for a short single numbers to maybe less than 100, or when you speak elder's age as polite form(?).

For example, when you said "please give me 25 sheets of paper" in Korean, you'd say 종이 스물 다섯장 주세요 rather than 종이 이십오장 주세요. It's just sound weird. But when you say 25 - 5 in Korean, you'd want to say 이십오 빼기 오 rather than 스물다섯 빼기 다섯. Well... latter isn't wrong at all, but it could sound like you are kid/children or maybe instructor teaching basic math to kids?

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