Korean numerals

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Korean grammar

The Korean language has two regularly used sets of numerals, a native Korean system and Sino-Korean system.

Construction[edit]

For both native and Sino- Korean numerals, the teens (11 through 19) are represented by a combination of tens and the ones places. For instance, 15 would be sib-o (십오), but not usually il-sib-o in the Sino-Korean system, and yeol-daseot (열다섯) in native Korean. Twenty through ninety are likewise represented in this place-holding manner in the Sino-Korean system, while Native Korean has its own unique set of words, as can be seen in the chart below. The grouping of large numbers in Korean follow the Chinese tradition of myriads (10000) rather than thousands (1000). The Sino-Korean system is nearly entirely based on the Chinese numerals.

The distinction between the two numeral systems is very important. Everything that can be counted will use one of the two systems, but seldom both. Sino-Korean words are sometimes used to mark ordinal usage: yeol beon (열 번) means "ten times" while sip beon (십(十) 번(番)) means "number ten."

When denoting the age of a person, one will usually use sal (살) for the native Korean numerals, and se (세) for Sino-Korean. For example, seu-mul da-seot sal (스물다섯 살) and i-sib-o se (이십오 세) both mean 'twenty-five-year-old'. See also East Asian age reckoning.

The Sino-Korean numerals are used to denote the minute of time. For example, sam-sib-o bun (삼십오 분) means "__:35" or "thirty-five minutes." The native Korean numerals are used for the hours in the 12-hour system and for the hours 0:00 to 12:00 in the 24-hour system. The hours 13:00 to 24:00 in the 24-hour system are denoted using both the native Korean numerals and the Sino-Korean numerals. For example, se si (세 시) means '03:00' or '3:00 a.m./p.m.' and sip-chil si (십칠 시) or yeol-ilgop si (열일곱 시) means '17:00'.

For counting above 100, Sino-Korean words are used, sometimes in combination: 101 can be baek-hana or baeg-il.

Some of the native numbers take a different form in front of measure words:

Number Native Korean cardinals Attributive forms of native Korean cardinals
Hangul McCune-Reischauer Revised Hangul McCune-Reischauer Revised
1 하나 hana hana han han
2 tul dul tu du
3 set set se se
4 net net ne ne
20 스물 sŭmul seumul 스무 sŭmu seumu

The descriptive forms for 1, 2, 3, 4, and 20 are formed by "dropping the last letter" from the original native cardinal, so to speak. Examples:

  • 한 번 han beon ("once")
  • 두 개 du gae ("two things")
  • 세 시 se si ("three o'clock"), in contrast, in North Korea the Sino-Korean numeral 삼 "sam" would normally be used; making it 삼시 "sam si"
  • 네 명 ne myeong ("four people")
  • 스무 마리 seumu mari ("twenty animals")

Something similar also occurs in some Sino-Korean cardinals:

  • 오뉴월 onyuwol ("May and June")
  • 유월 yuwol ("June")
  • 시월 siwol ("October")

The cardinals for three and four have alternative forms in front of some measure words:

  • 석 달 seok dal ("three months")
  • 넉 잔 neok jan ("four cups")

Numerals (Cardinal)[edit]

Number Sino-Korean cardinals Native Korean cardinals
Hanja Hangul Latin Hangul Latin
0 零/〇 영 (N: 령), 공 yeong (N: ryeong), gong - -
1 il 하나 hana
2 i dul
3 sam set
4 sa net
5 o 다섯 daseot
6 육 (N: 륙) yuk (N: ryuk) 여섯 yeoseot
7 chil 일곱 ilgop
8 pal 여덟 yeodeol
9 gu 아홉 ahop
10 sip yeol
11 十一 십일 sibil 열하나 yeolhana
12 十二 십이 sibi 열둘 yeoldul
13 十三 십삼 sipsam 열셋 yeolset
14 十四 십사 sipsa 열넷 yeolnet
15 十五 십오 sibo 열다섯 yeoldaseot
16 十六 십육 (N: 십륙) simnyuk[note 1] 열여섯 yeollyeoseot
17 十七 십칠 sipchil 열일곱 yeorilgop
18 十八 십팔 sippal 열여덟 yeollyeodeol
19 十九 십구 sipgu 열아홉 yeorahop
20 二十 이십 isip 스물 seumul
30 三十 삼십 samsip 서른 seoreun
40 四十 사십 sasip 마흔 maheun
50 五十 오십 osip swin
60 六十 육십 (N: 륙십) yuksip (N: ryuksip) 예순 yesun
70 七十 칠십 chilsip 일흔 ilheun
80 八十 팔십 palsip 여든 yeodeun
90 九十 구십 gusip 아흔 aheun
100 baek [note 2] on
1,000 cheon 즈믄[note 2] jeumeun
104 man 드먼 / 골[note 2] deumeon /
gol
108 eok [note 2] jal
1012 jo [note 2] ul
1016 gyeong - -
1020 hae - -
1024 [note 3] ja - -
1028 [note 3] yang - -
1032 [note 3] gu - -
1036 [note 3] gan - -
1040 [note 3] jeong - -
1044 [note 3] jae - -
1048 [note 3] geuk - -
1052 or 1056 恒河沙 항하사[note 4] hanghasa - -
1056 or 1064 阿僧祇 아승기[note 4] aseunggi - -
1060 or 1072 那由他 나유타[note 4] nayuta - -
1064 or 1080 不可思議 불가사의[note 4] bulgasaui - -
1068 or 1088 無量大數 무량대수[note 4] muryangdaesu - -

Pronunciation[edit]

The initial consonants of measure words and numbers following the native cardinals 여덟 ("eight", only when the ㅂ is not pronounced) and 열 ("ten") become tensed consonants when possible. Thus for example:

  • 열 셋 yeolset (thirteen) is pronounced like [열쎗] yeolsset
  • 여덟 권 yeodeolgwon (eight (books)) is pronounced like [여덜꿘] yeodeolkkwon

Several numerals have long vowels, namely 둘 (two), 셋 (three) and 넷 (four), but these become short when combined with other numerals / nouns (such as in twelve, thirteen, fourteen and so on).

The usual liaison and consonant-tensing rules apply, so for example, 예순 여섯(sixty-six) is pronounced like [예순녀섣] (yesunnyeoseot) and 칠십 chilsip (seventy) is pronounced like [칠씹] chilssip.

Constant Suffixes used in Sino-Korean ordinal numerals[edit]

번(番),호(號),차(次), and 회(回)are always used with Sino-Korean or Arabic ordinal numerals. For example, 이호선(二號線) is Line Number Two in metropolitan subway system. 37번국도(37番國道) is Highway Number 37. They cannot be used interchangeably. 906호(號) is 'Apt #906' in mailing address. 906 without 호 is not used in spoken Korean to imply apartment number or office suite #. Special prefix 제(第) is usually used in combination with suffixes to designate a specific event in sequential things such as the Olympics.

Substitution for disambiguation[edit]

In commerce or financial sector, some hanja for each Sino-Korean numbers are replaced by alternative ones to prevent ambiguity or retouching.

English Hangul Regular Hanja Financial Hanja
one
two
three
four
five
six 육 (N: 륙)
seven
eight
nine
ten
hundred
thousand

For verbally communicating number sequences such as phone numbers, ID numbers, etc., especially over the phone, native Korean numbers for 1 and 2 are sometimes substituted for the Sino-Korean numbers. For example, o-o-o hana-dul-hana-dul (오오오 하나둘하나둘) instead of o-o-o il-i-il-i (오오오 일이일이) for '555-1212,' or sa-o-i-hana (사-오-이-하나) instead of sa-o-i-il (사-오-이-일) for '4521,' because of the potential confusion between the two similar-sounding Sino-Korean numbers.

For the same reason, military transmissions are known to use mixed native Korean and Sino-Korean numerals: 하나 둘 여섯 칠 팔 아홉 .

Notes[edit]

  • Note 1: ^ Korean assimilation rules apply as if the underlying form were 십륙 |sip.ryuk|, giving simnyuk instead of the expected sibyuk.
  • Note 2: ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ These names are considered archaic, and are not used.
  • Note 3: ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ The numbers higher than 1020 (hae) are not usually used.
  • Note 4: ^ ^ ^ ^ The names for these numbers are from Buddhist texts; they are not usually used. Dictionaries sometimes disagree on which numbers the names represent.

References[edit]

  • J.J. Song The Korean language: Structure, Use and Context (2005 Routledge) pp. 81ff.

See also[edit]