Using numbers in Korean is very similar to Japanese and Chinese because those three use same Chinese numbers with different pronunciations. But this fact is applied for only cardinal numbers(one, two, three, …), not ordinal numbers (eg. first, second, third, …).

Basic Reading

ArabicCardinalOrdinal prototype1Chinese cardinal
1일[il]하나[hana]
2이[i]둘[dool]
3삼[sam]셋[set]
4사[sa]넷[net]
5오[o]다섯[daseot]
6육[yuk]여섯[yeoseot]
7칠[chil]일곱[ilgop]
8팔[pal]여덟[yeodeop]
9구[goo]아홉[ahop]
10십[sip]열[yeol]

Actually, these ordinal numbers are not actually ordinal. They are original-Korean numbers, and used to make real ordinal numbers in some contexts. (So if you use this forms as it is, it’s not an ordinal number. To know how to use them, see the end of this post.)

English-like languages have special notations for 11 and 12, but Korean-like languages doesn’t have such exceptions.

11십일열하나十一첫 becomes 하나 if you use it after 10 or larger.
12십이열둘十二 
13십삼열셋十三 
… (You can combine 십/열 and 1-digit numbers.)
20이십스물二十 
21이십일스물하나二十一 
30삼십서른三十 
40사십마흔四十 
50오십五十 
60육십예순六十 
70칠십일흔七十 
80팔십여든八十 
90구십아흔九十 
100백[baek] There is no more ordinal numbers from 100, so we use same names to cardinal numbers.2
1000천[cheon]  
1,0000만[man]  
1000,0000억[eok]  
1012조[jo]  
1016경[gyeong]  
0영[yeong] In middle digits of a number, we don’t say anything for 0, just like English.

English puts a comma between every 3-digits because it uses ‘thousands’ scaling, but Korean puts it between every 4-digits because it uses ‘ten-thousands(만)’ scaling. However, 3-digits separation is more frequently used in the real life such as banks.

Some examples:

24이십사스물넷二十四
101백일백하나百一
135백삼십오백서른다섯百三十五
2358이천삼백오십팔이천삼백쉰여덟二千三百五十八
1,2345,6789일억 이천삼백사십오만 육천칠백팔십구 一億 二千三百四十五萬 六千七百八十九
You may notice there is one-to-one mapping with Chinese numerals and Korean numerals.

If you use 1 in places of larger than 10000, we usually add a prefix ‘일’(1) to the number. So 1000,0001 is 일억일, not 억일, but 1,0000 is 만, not 일만. (You may use ‘일만’, but it’s only in some formal notations.)
It’s easy to think the last example as 1x108 (일x억) + 2345x104 (이천삼백사십오x만) + 6789x1 (육천칠백팔십구). If you want test yourself, there is a perl script that converts arabic numbers to Korean pronunciations. (Note that the script uses CP949 or EUC-KR encoding, not UTF-8. But I think if you copy & paste its source code in UTF-8 encoding, then it will run well in UTF-8 encoding.)

Floating numbers

To speak floating numbers, you can say ‘.’ as 점, and the following digits in 1-digit numbers, such as:
10.13579 = 십점일삼오칠구
365.2422 = 삼백육십오점이사이이

For more mathematical notations such as equations, fractions and squares, I will introduce them (maybe far-_-) later.

Using ordinal numbers

If you use ordinal numbers as the attributive forms, the last sounds in 2, 3, 4 and 20 are dropped. The affix ‘-째’ is something similar to ‘-th’ in English.

English Korean Desc.
first 첫째, 첫번째 ‘첫’ is another expression of ‘하나’ only used in ordinal numbers.
second 둘째, 두번째 you may notice that the form is varied.
third 셋째, 세번째
fourth 넷째, 네번째
fifth 다섯째, 다섯번째
sixth 여섯째, 여섯번째
seventh 일곱째, 일곱번째
eighth 여덟째, 여덟번째
ninth 아홉째, 아홉번째
tenth 열째, 열번째
eleventh 열한번째
twelfth 열두번째
thirteenth 열셋째, 열세번째
fourteenth 열넷째, 열네번째
twentieth 스무번째 Not 스물번째
thirtieth 서른번째

and so on.

You can read an article about Korean numerals on Wikipedia instead of this.


  1. These can be said as ‘native cardinal’ because they also may be used in the context for cardinals. Wikipedia uses ‘native cardinal’ here. 

  2. In ancient Korean, 100 = ‘온’, 1000 = ‘즈믄’, 104 = ‘드먼’, and so on, but these names are no longer used.