Learn to count in Mandarin
July 4, 2023

Learning to count in Mandarin is one of the most essential skills new students want to learn when they sign up for Inchin Closers Mandarin Language classes. Being able to bargain for the right price or surreptitiously trying to understand what two Chinese businessmen are saying when discussing the price of goods numbers are at the center of everything!

Taught logically and simplistically from 1 – 100 billion, Inchin Closers Mandarin Language classes, teach Chinese numbers from the beginning. We understand, that mastering Chinese numbers automatically increases the trust level amongst businessmen as they then speak the same language. While Chinese numbers may seem intimidating at first glance, they follow a logical pattern once you understand the basic principles. In this article, we will explore five easy tips to help you learn Chinese numbers efficiently and confidently.

  1. Understand the Number System:

Chinese numbers are based on a decimal system similar to English. However, unlike English, Chinese numbers have unique characters for each digit, which makes learning them a bit different. Start by familiarising yourself with the Chinese number system from 0 to 10, as this will form the foundation for counting higher numbers.

0 – 零 (líng)

1 – 一 (yī)

2 – 二 (èr)

3 – 三 (sān)

4 – 四 (sì)

5 – 五 (wǔ)

6 – 六 (liù)

7 – 七 (qī)

8 – 八 (bā)

9 – 九 (jiǔ)

10 – 十 (shí)

Taught logically and simplistically from 1 - 100 billion, Inchin Closers Mandarin Language classes, teach Chinese numbers from the beginning
  1. Master the Counting Pattern:

Once you are comfortable with the basic numbers, it’s crucial to understand the counting pattern in Chinese. Unlike English, where the pattern repeats every ten digits (e.g., twenty, thirty, forty), Chinese follows a pattern that repeats every four digits. For example:

11 – 十一 (shí yī)

12 – 十二 (shí èr)

13 – 十三 (shí sān) …

19 – 十九 (shí jiǔ)

20 – 二十 (èr shí)

21 – 二十一 (èr shí yī) …

29 – 二十九 (èr shí jiǔ)

30 – 三十 (sān shí)

By grasping this pattern, you can count up to 99 and beyond with ease.

  1. Learn the Multiples of Ten:

Knowing the multiples of ten is essential for handling larger numbers. In Chinese, these numbers follow a consistent pattern. For example:

100 – 一百 (yī bǎi)

200 – 二百 (èr bǎi) …

1000 – 一千 (yī qiān)

2000 – 二千 (èr qiān) …

10,000 – 一万 (yī wàn)

100,000 – 十万 (shí wàn)

1,000,000 – 一百万 (yī bǎi wàn)

By understanding this pattern, you can easily express numbers up to millions.

  1. Resources available:

A vital aspect of learning Chinese numbers is practicing your listening and speaking skills. Use various resources, such as joining Inchin Closers Mandarin Language classes, the Inchin app or audio recordings to hear native speakers pronounce numbers. Repeat after them, focusing on correct pronunciation and tone. Regular practice will help you become more comfortable and accurate in expressing numbers orally.

  1. Apply in your daily life

Numbers form a basic aspect of our daily lives. Whether you’re at the market purchasing vegetables of looking at the stock market, numbers are an integral part of all our lives. Mandarin numbers are very logical and easy to learn. Once you have mastered Chinese numbers from 1-10, counting upto a billion is easy. The more you use Chinese numbers in your daily life, the easier your communication will become with Chinese people. Try to use Mandarin numbers when giving your phone number or read a car number plate in Chinese, applying Mandarin numbers to your daily life is easy and will take you a long way in China.


Learning Chinese numbers may initially appear challenging, but with the right approach and practice, it can become more manageable. Start by understanding the number system and the counting pattern. Then, focus on mastering the multiples of ten and practice listening and speaking to improve your pronunciation skills. By utilising flashcards and mnemonics, you can reinforce your knowledge and make the learning process more engaging. Remember, practice and consistency are key to achieving proficiency in any language, and Chinese numbers are no exception.

Happy learning!

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