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?

  • So Korean children mostly learn traditional Korean numbers first and Sino Korean numbers as needed growing up?
    – Jean O
    Feb 3, 2020 at 21:43

5 Answers 5


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, 2018 at 8:24
  • 1
    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, 2018 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?


You should learn Sino-Korean numbers and then native ones. After doing so, you can just memorize 첫째 and -째 to learn ordinals. You do not have to learn Hanja ones unless you are going to read some old texts.

Sino-Korean numbers are used to read phone numbers, addresses, prices, and others that are really important to live in Korea. They are also used with a lot of Sino-Korean units. For example, 삼만 원 means thirty thousand won.

Native Korean numbers are used to count something fewer than 100 without its unit (In that table, those from 온 to 울 are outdated, so you can skip them); however, it does not mean that you cannot count something using the Sino-Korean numbers.

The table has several errors but I will mention four only:

  • It says the romanization of 십오 is shipo but the correct one is sibo (The pronunciation of 십오 is 시보)

  • 23,456,789 is 이천삼백사십오만 육천칠백팔십구 (not 이천 삼백 사십 오만 육천 칠백 팔십 구)

  • The numeral 열두째 (not the noun 열둘째) is used as in 이 줄 열두째 (the twelfth in this line)

  • 온째 is not used

What makes it difficult to learn native ones is that some native Korean numbers do not equal to their numeral determiners. For example, 한 시 (not 하나 시) means 1 a.m. or 1 p.m. You can say 사과 하나 and 사과 한 개 (not 사과 하나 개) to mean one apple.


안녕하세요 I have found one article to learn Korean numbers which will be beneficial for all of the Korean language learners. plz, take a look at this site also. Korean numbers and Korean counter


Korean Numbers.

Korean numbers are actually very easy once you get the hang of them. But, because they are so different from English numbers, it is often hard for English speakers to fully understand them at first.

First thing you need to know, there are two sets of numbers in Korean: The pure Korean numbers and the numbers derived from Chinese (called Sino-Korean numbers). Let’s look at the Sino-Korean numbers first, because they are easier:

Sino-Korean Numbers.

These are the Sino-Korean numbers as provided in Vocabulary:

일 = one

이 = two

삼 = three

사 = four

오 = five

육 = six

칠 = seven

팔 = eight

구 = nine

십 = ten

백 = one hundred

천 = one thousand

만 = ten thousand

With only those numbers, you can create any number from 1 – 10 million. All you need to do is put them together:

일 = one (1)

십 = ten (10)

십일 = eleven (10 + 1)

이십 = twenty (2 x 10)

이십일 = twenty one (2 x 10 + 1)

이십이 = twenty two (2 x 10 + 2)

백 = one hundred (100)

백일 = one hundred and one (100 + 1)

백이 = one hundred and two (100 + 2)

백구십 = one hundred and ninety (100 + 90)

구백 = nine hundred (9 x 100)

천 = one thousand (1000)

천구백 = one thousand nine hundred (1000 + 9 x 100)

오천 = five thousand (5 x 1000)

오천육백 = five thousand six hundred (5 x 1000 + 6 x 100)

만 = ten thousand

십만 = one hundred thousand

백만 = one million

천만 = ten million

The Sino-Korean numbers are used in limited situations. As each of these are taught throughout the upcoming lessons, you will slowly learn when to use the Sino-Korean numbers over the Korean numbers. For now, don’t worry about memorizing when they should be used, as it will come naturally.

When counting/dealing with money

When measuring

When doing math

In phone


When talking about/counting time in any way except the hour

The names of each month

Counting months (there is another way to count months using pure Korean numbers)

Pure Korean Numbers.

These are the pure Korean numbers as provided in the Vocabulary:

하나 = one

둘 = two

셋 = three

넷 = four

다섯 = five

여섯 = six

일곱 = seven

여덟 = eight

아홉 = nine

열 = ten

스물 = twenty

서른 = thirty

마흔 = forty

쉰 = fifty

Creating numbers 11-19, 21-29, 31-39 (etc…) is easy, and is done like this:

11: 열 하나 (10 + 1)

12: 열 둘 (10 + 2)

21: 스물 하나 (20 + 1)

59: 쉰 아홉 (5 + 9)

After 60, regardless of what you are doing, pure Korean numbers are rarely used.

The pure Korean numbers are used when:

You are counting things/people/actions

Talking about the hour in time

Sometimes used when talking about months.

Again, don’t worry about memorizing each of those yet. Whenever I talk about numbers, I will tell you which set you are expected to use.

Korean Numbers - Learn Numbers In Korean In 10 Steps - Learn Korean This lesson has- Numbers in Korean, sino Korean number, Native Korean number, Korean number counter, Korean number counting system, native Korean number quiz

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