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KOREAN COUNT WORD

Like Chinese and Japanese, Korean uses special measure or counting words to count objects
and events, which in Korean are called subullyusa (Hangeul: / Hanja: ). In
English, one must say, "two sheets of paper" rather than "two papers". In Korean, the
term jang (/) is used to count sheets, or paper-like material in general. So "ten bus
tickets" would be beoseu pyo yeol jang ( / ), literally, "bus ticket
ten 'sheets'". In fact, the meanings of counter words are frequently extended in metaphorical
or other image-based ways. For instance, in addition to counting simply sheets of
paper, jang in Korean can be used to refer to any number of thin, paper-like objects. Leaves
(namunnip ) are counted using this count word. In this way, a particular count word
may be used generally in a very open-ended manner and up to the construal or creativity of
the speaker. There are two systems of numerals in Korean: native Korean and Sino-Korean.
Native Korean numerals are used with most counter words. yeol gwa ( / ) would
mean 'ten lessons' while sip gwa (/) would mean 'lesson ten.' Sino-Korean numerals
are used with many (but not all, particularly si (/), meaning "hour") time counters.

Examples
Some counter words taking Native Korean numerals:
gae (/) -- 'things' in general, often used as a coverall when the specific count word is
unknown, for example by children.
beol () -- items of clothing
bun () -- people (honorific)
cheok (/) -- boats and ships
chae () -- houses
dae (/) -- vehicles (cars, airplanes) and machinery (incl. computers)
dan () -- bunches of Welsh onions, green onions; a column (in a newspaper)
dong (/) -- buildings
geuru () -- trees
gwa (/) -- lessons (if paired with Sino-Korean numeral, lesson number)
gwon (/) -- books
jang (/) -- paper
jaru () -- things with long handles (writing instruments, shovels, swords, and rifles),
and by extension, knives and pistols
jul () -- literal meaning: line. things aligned in a row (gimbap, desks, chairs)
kyeolle () -- gloves and socks (pairs)
mari () -- animals
myeong (/) -- people (informal)
pil (/) -- uncut fabric, horses, cows
pogi () -- Chinese cabbages
pun () -- pennies
sal () -- years
song-i () -- picked flowers, bunches of grapes, bunches of bananas
tol () -- grains of rice (not cooked), stones
tong (/) -- letters, telegrams, telephone calls, and e-mail
tong () -- watermelons
jeom () -- paintings , sliced or ripped off flesh , small amount of something
(cloud, wind)

Some counter words taking Sino-Korean numerals:


nyeon (/) -- year (for dates; 2014, 1998)
wol (/) -- month (for dates; : January, : February, ...)
il (/) -- day (for dates)
gwa (/) -- lesson number
won () -- Won
hagnyeon (/) -- school year, grade level (2: Sophomore, 2nd Grade)
jeom (/) -- grade (100)

Some nouns can also function as counter words:


byeong (/) -- bottles

cheung (/) -- floors (of a building), layers


geureut () -- bowls
gok (/) -- songs
jan (/) -- cups and glasses
madi () -- phrases, joints, and musical measures
saram () -- people (informal)
tong (/) -- containers, buckets

Some words are used for counting in multiples:


jeop () -- one hundred dried persimmons/garlic
ko () -- twenty dried pollock
pan (/) -- thirty eggs
son () -- two fish (typically mackerels or yellow croaker)
daseu/taseu (/) -- dozen (an abbreviated form of the English)
tot () -- one hundred sheets of laver
Nouns - Numbers and Counting

There are two ways of pronouncing numbers in Korean. These are:

Sino-Korean numerals - , , , ...


Native Korean numerals - , , , ...

The Sino-Korean numerals are used for dates, minutes and prices.
The native Korean numerals are used for counting, age and hours.

Sino-Korean Numerals [Dates, Minutes and Prices]

The key to memorizing the pronunciations of the Sino-Korean numerals is


to learn from 1() to 10(), and use these ten numbers as building blocks
to learn the rest of the numbers. Here is a list of the first ten numbers:
1=
2=
3=
4=
5=
6=
7=
8=
9=
10 =

From 11 to 19, what you need to do is say 10() first and say the ones'
number.
For example,

11 = 10 + 1 + =
12 = 10 + 2 + =
13 = 10 + 3 + =
17 = 10 + 7 + =
19 = 10 + 9 + =

From 20 and onward, it works in the same way. But in addition, 20, 30, ...,
90 are pronounced in the following way:

20 = + = (Lit. two-ten)
30 = + = (Lit. three-ten)
50 = + =
80 = + =
90 = + =

Additionally,

21 = + = (Lit. two-ten one)


22 = + =
32 = + =
45 = + =
57 = + =
89 = + =

100 is , and 200 is which literally means 'two-hundred.' Then how


do you say 300 as a Sino-Korean numeral? Yes, it's (Lit.three-
hundred)

100 =
101 =
105 =
127 =
200 =
219 =
324 =
508 =
731 =
945 =

1000 is , then 2000 is? Yes, it's . Then how do you say 3283 in a
Sino-Korean way? It's . [Lit. three-thousand two-hundred
eight-ten three]

1000 =
1001 =
1035 =
2427 =
8492 =

What is 10000? It's . It is not (or ten-thousand). 20000 is ,


30000 is and so on.

10000 =
10002 =
10034 =
20673 =
84832 =

Now 100000 is and 200000 is . At this point, it'd help you


understand the naming system of these numbers if you think them in terms
of their number of zeros. Here is what I mean:

10000 is
10,0000 is
100,0000 is
1000,0000 is
1,0000,0000 is (NOT )
10,0000,0000 is
100,0000,0000 is
1000,0000,0000 is
1,0000,0000,0000 is

You can see that numbers obtain a new name every time they get
additional 4 zeros. This is different to English where the name of numbers
change after every additional 3 zeros. For example, 'thousand', 'million' and
'billion'.

However, when we write numbers, we follow the international standard in


that the comma is placed after every threes. The examples above where
the comma is placed after every 4 zeros are for the purpose of easier
understanding only. Therefore:

= 10,000
= 100,000 (NOT 10,0000)
= 1,000,000 (NOT 100,0000)

Let's revise what we've learned above:

11 =
12 =
13 =
20 =
25 =
30 =
40 =
50 =
56 =
70 =
80 =
100 =
101 =
107 =
120 =
150 =
200 =
202 =
537 = [500 +30 + 7 + + = ]
1000 =
2000 =
2500 =
10000 =
10500 = [10000 + 500 + = ]
53847 = [50000 + 3000 + 800 + 40 + 7
+ + + + = ]

The following are the examples of how the Sino-Korean numerals are used
for dates, minutes and prices.

[Dates]

The order in which the date is written is reversed in Korean. A day of the
week comes first, then a month and then a year. [a year = , a month = ,
a day of the week = ]
Notice how the Sino-Korean numerals are used in pronouncing dates.
28 Jan 2010 2010 1 28 =
17/10/2011 2011/10/17 = 2011 10 17
=

Note: 10 is not , but rather . This exception is due to the


awkwardness of pronouncing , which is quite cumbersome to
pronounce. Therefore 10 is for the pronunciation's sake.

[Minutes]

The Sino-Korean numerals are also used for 'minutes' but not for 'hours'.
The native Korean numerals which are used for pronouncing the number of
'hours' are explained below in the second section of this post.

[an hour, o'clock = , a minute(s) = , am = , pm = ]

9:38 am 9 38 =
6:19 pm 6 19 =

[Prices]

The Korean currency is called 'won.' Its symbol is '', and it's pronounced
.

12,800 12,800 =
39,130 39,130 =

Native Korean numerals [Counting, Age and Hours]

The basic numbering system of the native Korean numerals is the same as
that of the Sino-Korean numerals. However, in addition to one to ten, there
is a need to learn the special pronunciations of tens, i.e. 20, 30, 40, 50, 60,
70, 80 and 90.

From 100, the pronunciation is the same as the Sino-Korean numerals


we've looked at above. [hundred (100) = , thousand (1000) = , ten
thousand (10000) = ]

1 =
2=
3=
4=
5 =
6 =
7 =
8 =
9 =
10 =
11 =
12 =
13 =
17 =
20 =
21 =
22 =
23 =
30 =
40 =
50 =
55 =
60 =
70 =
75 = [70 + 5 + = ]
80 =
90 =
100 =
189 = [100 + 80 + 9 + + = ]

Below are the examples of how the native Korean numerals are used in
counting, age and hours.

[Counting]

The native Korean numerals are used for counting, e.g. the number of
people in a class, the number of cars in a car park, the numbers of apples
on an apple tree, the numbers of pencils or pens on a desk, etc.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ... = , , , , , ...

When counting, we use distinctive identifier words called counters. Each


kind of object (or person for that matter) has their own counter to
distinguish them from other kinds. This counter system is a bit like the
system found in English, i.e. 3 cups of juice, 5 glasses of water. However,
the Korean counting system extends to every object.

For example,

three cups of juice =


five glasses of water =
six people = ()
five cars =
three apples =
two pencils =
four books =
ten roses =

Listed below are some of the most common counters used in counting.

= people
= animals
= cars
= objects (this is very widely used for any inanimate objects)
= long, lean objects
= trees
= flowers
= shoes
= paper
= books
= age
= floor [The Sino-Korean numerals are used for counting the
number of floors, i.e. the first floor = , the second floor = , and the
eighth floor = ]

Please also note that becomes , and the final consonant of each of
, , and is omitted when they are attached to counters. For
example,
() = a glass of water (NOT )
() = two pieces of paper (NOT )
() = three pairs of shoes (NOT )
() = four people (NOT )
() = twenty (years of age) (NOT )
The counters work in a similar way to some of the counter words in English,
e.g. is similar to 'pieces' and is similar to 'pairs'.

[Age]

As we've looked at above, the counter, , is attached to years of age. For


example:

1 =
2 =
3 =
4 =
5 =
7 =
10 =
11 =
12 =
13 =
17 =
20 =
24 =
32 =
58 =

[Hours]

The native Korean numerals are also used for 'hours' but not for 'minutes'
which use the Sino-Korean numerals.

10:25 am 10 25 =
7:30 pm 7 30 = or (
means 'a half')

[Months]
= 1 month
= 2 months
= 3 months
= 4 months
= 5 months
= 6 months
= 7 months
= 8 months
= 9 months
= 10 months

Example sentence
2 2 = I went to school for 2
months and had a break(holidays) for 2 weeks.
Subject Particles - / and /

/ and / both are used for the subject of a sentence but /


introduces a topic or a subject whereas / identifies a subject.

In addition to their differences already explored above, here is another big


difference between the two particles.

The topic particle, /, is used in cases when we make a general or


factual statement whereas / is not.

For example,

= Cheetah is fast
= Cheetah is slow (This would be a wrong statement)

However, if you visited a zoo and saw a cheetah who seems to move very
slowly, you might say,
= (That) cheetah is slow

So the identifier particle, /, indicates a certain person or thing that the


speaker and listener know or are aware of. In this case, it would be that
cheetah in the zoo.

Here is another example,


= The sea is blue
= The sea is black (In general, this is a wrong
statement.)

But say, you saw the sea at night and you may exclaim,
! = The sea is black!

The sea in this sentence is identified as a particular sea at night, and both
the speaker and listener know which sea is being talked about. This is not a
general statement. Therefore the identifier particle, /, is used in this
case.
Of course, is also perfectly acceptable. However, the
difference is that the sea in this sentence is also a particular sea that is
known by both the speaker and the listener.
= The sea is blue (A general statement)
= The sea is blue (The sea is identified and known by
the speaker and listener)

It's similar to the way articles are used in English.

For example,
An apple is red = (A general or factual statement
about an apple)
The apple is red = (A particular apple that the speaker
identifies and indicates to the listener)