How to count things in Chinese



If we need to talk about counting things in Chinese, then naturally we need to start with numbers in Chinese first. Please look at the table below to learn the basic 0 to 10 numbers in Chinese?


0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
líng èr sān wǔ  liù bā  jiǔ  shí


You also need to learn the following new words before you move on. Let’s take a few moment to make friends with them:

bǎi qiān wàn
 (hundred)  (thousand)  (ten thousand)
běn shū
亿 (hundred million)  (quantifier)  (book)
píng guǒ shé tuǐ
苹果 (apple)   (snake)  (leg)
lǎo hǔ
 (chicken) 老虎 (tiger)  (quantifier)
tiáo zhǐ
(quantifier) (quantifier)




Numbers greater than ten is counted this way:

11, 12, 13 ……

shí·yī, shí’èr, shísān ……

十一,  十二,  十三 ……


When it reaches the next ten, write tens and the subsequent numbers as below:

20, 21, 22, 23 …….

èrshí, èrshí yī, èrshí èr, èrshí sān …..

二十,  二十一,  二十二,  二十三 …..


When it comes to hundred:

100, 101, 102 …

yī bǎi, yī bǎi líng yī, yī bǎi líng èr ……

一百,  一百零一,  一百零二 ……


When it reaches one thousand, it becomes:

1000, 1001, …… 1039 … 1341 …

yī qiān, yī qiān líng yī, …… yī qiān líng sānshí jiǔ …… yī qiān sān bǎi sì shí·yī ……

一千,  一千零一,  …… 一千零三十九 …… 一千三百四十一 ……


Whenever there’s one or more consecutive zeros in the middle of those digits, replace all zeros with “零” in Chinese.


If you move greater beyond thousand, then you’ll meet “万”:

10000 …… 10020……

yī wàn…… yī wàn líng èrshí……

一万…… 一万零二十……


If we keep going, you’ll see million and billion as well:

1 million = 1000,000

In Chinese, you say:

yī bǎiwàn



Then what about 1 billion?

1 billion = 1000,000,000

In Chinese, you say:




Please be aware, “billion” is NOT equal to “亿”, it equals to “十亿”. This has been a common mistake for Chinese student when they learn English.



Now you’ve got the concept of how to count in Chinese. However, you also need to know what is the right quantifier to use when you talk about things quantified. For example, to say “five books”, you can’t just say “五书”, you need to say 五本书 (wǔ běn shū)”. “本” is the quantifier you need to know. It’s normally used for “book like” things.

There are a bunch of quantifiers in Chinese that you need to learn, but I’ll focus on this topic in a separate lesson. In this lesson, you only need to remember the most frequently used quantifiers: “个” “条” and “只”.

“个” is used for most things that can be quantified, such as 九个人(jiǔ gèrén)”, “三个苹果 (sān gè píngguǒ)”……


“条” is used for things with long shape, such as 五条蛇 (wǔ tiáo shé)”, “两条腿 (liǎng tiáo tuǐ)”


“只” is mostly used for animals, such as 六只鸡 (liù zhǐ jī)”, “四只老虎 (sì zhǐ lǎohǔ)”


As a practice, try to type any random combination of the Chinese numbers you just learned into Google and search for Chinese articles that have numbers in it. See if you can figure out how much it is.


Welcome to have my face to face lesson on  !  🙂


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