Pure Korean VS Sino-Korean


Did you know that Korean uses two number-systems? Just the thought of it makes us cringe, but I won't lift your spirit up by saying it's not hard at all. Because the truth is... it really is confusing to use at first. We have Pure-Korean number and Sino-Korean numbers and each of them has their own set of one to ten.

Pure-Korean
하나다섯여섯일곱여덟아홉

Sino-Korean

Pure-Korean mostly has two-syllable numbers while Sino-Korean is one-syllable consistent. Now, let’s move nine more numbers up.

Pure-Korean
열하나열둘열셋열넷열다섯열여섯열일곱열여덟열아홉

Sino-Korean
십일십이십삼십사십오십육십칠십팔십구

Both of them follow the same pattern which is ten + one/two/three and so on. However, in actual use, the first four numbers in Pure-Korean evolve always when telling time, age, and counting people or things. Hence, they automatically become 열한열두열세, and 열네. This doesn’t happen in Sino-Korean which makes it again, a little complicated. Let’s begin counting from twenty.

Pure-Korean
스물스물하나스물둘스물셋스물넷스물다섯스물여섯스물일곱스물여덟스물아홉

Sino-Korean
이십이십일이십이이십삼이십사이십오이십육이십칠이십팔이십구

They no longer follow the same path. Pure-Korean numbers have special numbers for 20, 30, to 90 as follows: 스물 (20), 서른 (30), 마흔 (40),  (50), 예순 (60), 일흔 (70), 여든 (80), and 아흔 (90). Then, we attach any of the first ten numbers to count more as in 마흔다섯 (45), 예순둘 (62), and 아흔아홉 (99).

In Sino-Korean, the pattern is different. We add “” to numbers , and so on. Hence, 20 is 이십 and 30 is 삼십. Then, we attach any of the first ten numbers to count more as in 사십오 (45), 육십이 (62), and 구십구 (90).