An easy beginner's guide on how to count in Chinese numbers

วิธีนับเลขภาษาจีน 1-100 แบบง่าย ๆ

An easy beginner's guide on how to count in Chinese numbers

Counting in Mandarin Chinese might seem intimidating, but it's actually one of the simplest and most gratifying aspects of the language. In your initial Mandarin lessons, you'll learn how to count from one to ten, which requires memorizing the unique names for each number. However, counting beyond ten and even into the trillions is quite straightforward.

In just a few hours, you can progress from a complete beginner to near-expert levels, thanks to the Chinese counting system. Counting in Mandarin is so user-friendly that Chinese children often outperform their English-speaking counterparts. There are two primary reasons why counting in Mandarin is simpler than you might expect:

  • The first ten numbers are monosyllabic, making them short and easy to remember.
  • Numbers beyond ten don't have unique names. From 11 onwards, numbers are formed through multiplication and/or addition of the first ten numbers, which is much easier than it might seem.

Let's begin our exploration of counting in Mandarin Chinese!

Why learning numbers in Mandarin is useful

Spending just a few hours learning how to count in Chinese can have massive payoffs. For example, knowing how to count will help you:

  • Ask for a definite number of things. When you go to the supermarket, you’ll be able to ask for the exact number of fruits and vegetables that you want to buy.
  • Stay away from unlucky numbers. Luck is an important part of Chinese culture, so there are certain numbers that you’ll definitely want to avoid!
  • Make plans! Knowing the numbers in Chinese will allow you to tell the time in Chinese and make plans on specific dates. You’ll be able to celebrate birthdays, make plans to grab a drink, and even book dinner reservations!
  • Learn some slang. Yep! You read that right. Number slang is extremely common in China, so learning how to count will also help you learn some helpful Chinese slang!

At this point, you must be so ready to get started with Chinese. So, without further ado, let’s dive into how to actually read and write numbers in Chinese.

How to read and write numbers in Mandarin

วิธีการนับเลข 1-10 ในภาษาจีน

When it comes to reading and writing numbers in Chinese, there are two methods: using Arabic numerals and Chinese characters. Similar to English, you can either use numeric symbols or write out the numbers using their character names.

Generally, only single or double-digit numbers are written using characters, while larger numbers like years, addresses, and phone numbers are written with Arabic numerals, just as in English. Thankfully, this means you won't need to memorize countless characters to write numbers.

In fact, even if large numbers were written using characters, you'd only need to know slightly more than 11 characters to write any number. The writing system's structure ensures minimal memorization is needed. As long as you understand basic arithmetic, you'll be able to manage with just about a dozen characters.

Now that you're ready, let's dive into counting in Chinese!

How to count in Chinese from 0 - 10

Counting to ten is the absolute hardest thing about counting in Chinese. Yes, we do mean that! Once you’ve mastered the first ten, everything else is all about stacking them in different orders. But we’ll get to that in a second! For now, let’s get started with the first ten numbers in Mandarin.

Number Mandarin Pinyin Pronunciation
0 líng leeng
1 e
2 èr ahr
3 sān sahn
4 sih
5 woo
6 liù liow
7 chee
8 bah
9 jiǔ jeou
10 shí shih



How to count in Chinese from 11 - 99

We promised you that learning the first ten numbers was the hardest part, and we’re not ones to break our promises! Here’s the great news: if you already know how to count to ten, then you already have what it takes to count to 100! Beyond 10, all you need to do is stack your numbers a certain way to get to a hundred. Here’s a quick formula:

  • A × 十 (10) + B

Where A is multiplied by 10, and then B is added to the result. Let’s plug in some numbers into our formula:

  • (2) × 十 (10) + 3 = 2 × 10 + 3 = 23 (two-ten-three)
  • (5) × 十 (10) + 5 = 5 × 10 + 5 = 55 (five-ten-five)
  • 8 × 十 (10) + 9 = 8 × 10 + 9 = 89 (eight-ten-nine)

And that’s it! That’s all the math you will need to know, and doing these calculations will become second nature as you start practicing. Truthfully, you don’t even need to make the operations in your head: just as long as you remember that the first digit comes first, followed by 十 (shí) and then the second digit, you’ll be fine.

Two things to keep in mind, and part of the reason the math formula above is important, is that you do not need to say one before the ten for 11-19. Since multiplying one by ten is redundant, you can omit the one completely and just say “ten-five” for 15.

The other thing to consider is when the second digit is a zero. Using our formula above, you would be adding a zero, which is redundant. So, instead of saying “three-ten-zero” for 30, you can just say “three-ten.”

Here’s a detailed table of the numbers from 11 to 99. Take a look at it, and we’re sure you’ll find the rhythm of counting in Chinese in no time.

Number Mandarin Pinyin Pronunciation
11 十一 shí yī shih e
12 十二 shí èr shih ahr
13 十三 shí sān shih sahn
14 十四 shí sì shih sih
15 十五 shí wǔ shih woo
16 十六 shí liù shih liow
17 十七 shí qī shih chee
18 十八 shí bā shih bah
19 十九 shí jiǔ shih jeou
20 二十 èr shí ahr shih
21 二十一 èr shí yī ahr shih
22 二十二 èr shí èr ahr shih ahr
23 二十三 èr shí sān ahr shih sahn
24 二十四 èr shí sì ahr shih sih
25 二十五 èr shí wǔ ahr shih woo
26 二十六 èr shí liù ahr shih liow
27 二十七 èr shí qī ahr shih chee
28 二十八 èr shí bā ahr shih bah
29 二十九 èr shí jiǔ ahr shih jeou
30 三十 sān shí sahn shih
31 三十一 sān shí yī sahn shih
32 三十二 sān shí èr sahn shih ahr
33 三十三 sān shí sān sahn shih sahn
34 三十四 sān shí sì sahn shih sih
35 三十五 sān shí wǔ sahn shih woo
36 三十六 sān shí liù sahn shih liow
37 三十七 sān shí qī sahn shih chee
38 三十八 sān shí bā sahn shih bah
39 三十九 sān shí jiǔ sahn shih jeou
40 四十 sì shí sih shih
41 四十一 sì shí yī sih shih
42 四十二 sì shí èr sih shih ahr
43 四十三 sì shí sān sih shih sahn
44 四十四 sì shí sì sih shih sih
45 四十五 sì shí wǔ sih shih woo
46 四十六 sì shí liù sih shih liow
47 四十七 sì shí qī sih shih chee
48 四十八 sì shí bā sih shih bah
49 四十九 sì shí jiǔ sih shih jeou
50 五十 wǔ shí woo shih
51 五十一 wǔ shí yī woo shih
52 五十二 wǔ shí èr woo shih ahr
53 五十三 wǔ shí sān woo shih sahn
54 五十四 wǔ shí sì woo shih sih
55 五十五 wǔ shí wǔ woo shih woo
56 五十六 wǔ shí liù woo shih liow
57 五十七 wǔ shí qī woo shih chee
58 五十八 wǔ shí bā woo shih bah
59 五十九 wǔ shí jiǔ woo shih jeou
60 六十 liù shí liow shih
61 六十一 liù shí yī liow shih
62 六十二 liù shí èr liow shih ahr
63 六十三 liù shí sān liow shih sahn
64 六十四 liù shí sì liow shih sih
65 六十五 liù shí wǔ liow shih woo
66 六十六 liù shí liù liow shih liow
67 六十七 liù shí qī liow shih chee
68 六十八 liù shí bā liow shih
69 六十九 liù shí jiǔ liow shih jeou
70 七十 qī shí chee shih
71 七十一 qī shí yī chee shih
72 七十二 qī shí èr chee shih ahr
73 七十三 qī shí sān chee shih sahn
74 七十四 qī shí sì chee shih sih
75 七十五 qī shí wǔ chee shih woo
76 七十六 qī shí liù chee shih liow
77 七十七 qī shí qī chee shih chee
78 七十八 qī shí bā chee shih bah
79 七十九 qī shí jiǔ chee shih jeou
80 八十 bā shí bah shih
81 八十一 bā shí yī bah shih
82 八十二 bā shí èr bah shih ahr
83 八十三 bā shí sān bah shih sahn
84 八十四 bā shí sì bah shih sih
85 八十五 bā shí wǔ bah shih woo
86 八十六 bā shí liù bah shih liow
87 八十七 bā shí qī bah shih chee
88 八十八 bā shí bā bah shih bah
89 八十九 bā shí jiǔ bah shih jeou
90 九十 jiǔ shí jeou shih
91 九十一 jiǔ shí yī jeou shih
92 九十二 jiǔ shí èr jeou shih ahr
93 九十三 jiǔ shí sān jeou shih sahn
94 九十四 jiǔ shí sì jeou shih sih
95 九十五 jiǔ shí wǔ jeou shih woo
96 九十六 jiǔ shí liù jeou shih liow
97 九十七 jiǔ shí qī jeou shih chee
98 九十八 jiǔ shí bā jeou shih bah
99 九十九 jiǔ shí jiǔ jeou shih jeou


Time to say 88!

Congratulations, you've now learned how to count up to 100 and beyond in Mandarin Chinese! Mastering counting is a significant achievement in any language learner's journey, and you deserve a pat on the back for accomplishing it!

To further enhance your Mandarin learning experience, consider exploring some of our other helpful Chinese articles, such as our comprehensive guide to Chinese radicals or our quick introduction to greeting people in Mandarin. Keep up the great momentum!