Numbers are important, from telling others your age, how much in prices, to getting someone’s numbers. Cantonese numbers are even more straightforward than English! Learn these rules of Cantonese numbers, and start calculating faster!

Let’s talk about numbers today! You might have heard that Chinese people are very good with their math & numbers. It is not without reasons. Counting in Chinese or Cantonese is pretty fast, because the most basic Cantonese numbers 0-10 are all in a single syllable. Meaning, it only requires one sound for each number 0-10, so it would make sense that the processing time for numbers is shorter for the brain. An advantage to learning numbers in Cantonese is that you will be able to calculate faster in your head, that is, if you can encode the Cantonese numbers in your brain. Let’s take a closer look at these numbers. You can choose to repeat after me.

The numbers 0-10 in Cantonese

Zero - 零 (Official pron: [ling4], Dummy PY: Link)

One - 一 (Official pron: [yat1], Dummy PY: Yet)

Two - 二 (Official pron: [yi6], Dummy PY: Yee)

Three - 三 (Official pron: [saam1], Dummy PY: Sarm)

Four - 四 (Official Pron: [sei3], Dummy PY: Say)

Five - 五 (Official Pron: [ng5], Dummy PY: um)

Six - 六 (Official pron: [luk6], Dummy PY: Look)

Seven -七 (Official pron: [chat1], Dummy PY: Chut)

Eight - 八 (Official pron: [baat3], Dummy PY: Bat)

Nine - 九 (Official pron: [gau2], Dummy PY: Gow)

Ten - 十 (Official pron: [sap6], Dummy PY: Sup)

I have made an episode on learning #1-10 with hypnosis previously, if you are interested you can check it out. You can learn cantonese while you sleep, it is possible!

Counting by the 10s in Cantonese

Next, we will try to understand how the numbers by the 10s work. We now know that 10 is 十(Dummy PY: Sup), and we also know 1-9 一至九 (Dummy PY: Yet Gee Gow)in Cantonese, to count by the 10s is easy! To express twenty, in Cantonese is 二十 (Dummy PY: Yee Sup), literally two tens; thirty is 三十 (Dummy PY: Sarm Sup), literally three tens.

Twenty - 二十 (Official pron: [yi6] [sap6], Dummy PY: Yee sup)

Thirty - 三十 (Official pron: [saam1] [sap6], Dummy PY: Sarm sup)

Forty - 四十 (Official Pron: [sei3] [sap6], Dummy PY: Say sup)

Fifty - 五十 (Official Pron: [ng5] [sap6], Dummy PY: um sup)

Sixty - 六十 (Official pron: [luk6] [sap6], Dummy PY: Look sup)

Seventy -七十 (Official pron: [chat1] [sap6], Dummy PY: Chut sup)

Eighty - 八十 (Official pron: [baat3] [sap6], Dummy PY: Bat sup)

Ninety - 九十 (Official pron: [gau2] [sap6], Dummy PY: Gow sup)

One hundred - 一百 (Official pron: [yat1}[baak3], Dummy PY: Yet bak)

100, 一百 (Dummy PY: Yet Bak), pay attention to the pronunciation of the word 百 (Dummy PY: Bak), hundred, and the word, 八 (Dummy PY: Bat), eight. They have similar pronunciations, for 百 (Dummy PY: Bak), hundred, it ends with a silent k sound; whereas 八, eight ends with a silent t sound.

The numbers 11-19 in Cantonese

Moving onto the teens, once you learn these, counting the rest will be very easy. The principle of it is the same as 1-9, except that you will need to add the word ten 十 (Dummy PY: Sup) in front. So for example, eleven, in Cantonese is 十一 (Dummy PY: Sup Yet), literally ten and one, so 11. 12, in Cantonese, is 十二 (Dummy PY: Sup Yee), literally ten and two. Make sense?

Eleven - 十一 (Official pron: [sap6] [yat1], Dummy PY: Sup Yet)

Twelve - 十二 (Official pron: [sap6] [yi6], Dummy PY: Sup Yee)

Thirteen - 十三 (Official pron: [sap6] [saam1], Dummy PY: Sup Sarm)

Fourteen - 十四 (Official Pron: [sap6] [sei3], Dummy PY: Sup Say)

Fifteen - 十五 (Official Pron: [sap6] [ng5], Dummy PY: Sup um)

Sixteen - 十六 (Official pron: [sap6] [luk6], Dummy PY: Sup Look) Seventeen - 十七 (Official pron: [sap6] [chat1], Dummy PY: Sup Chut) Eighteen - 十八 (Official pron: [sap6] [baat3], Dummy PY: Sup Bat) Nineteen - 十九 (Official pron: [sap6] [gau2], Dummy PY: Sup Gow)

The rest of the numbers in Cantonese Once you have learned these rules, the rest should be fairly easy. I will use the example of two-digit numbers ending with 1 一 (Dummy PY: Yet), for twenty-one, in Cantonese is 二十一 (Dummy PY: Yee Sup Yet), literally two tens one, twenty-one, for thirty-one, in Cantonese is 三十一 (Dummy PY: Sarm Sup Yet), literally three tens one, thirty-one.

*For two-digit numbers, it can be expressed using x(10)y, x (十)y, x being the number of the first digit, and y being the number of the last digit.

*For three-digit numbers, it can be expressed using, x(100) y(10)z, x (百)y(十)z, x being the number of the first digit, and y being the number of the second digit, z being the number of the last digit. For example like 121, the first digit is 1一, the second digit is 2二, and the last digit is 1一, so using the equation of x (百)y(十)z, it will be 一百二十一

(Dummy PY: Yet Bak Yee Sup Yet)


Two more number units that you might find important, thousands 千

(Dummy PY: Chin)

, and ten thousands, 萬

(Dummy PY: Marn)

, you can apply similar equations in forming your own numbers.

Finally, Cantonese people are lazy and efficient. In order to even make counting numbers easier, the single syllable word 廿 (廿[ya6] ) was invested to replace the double-syllabled words 二十 twenty (Dummy PY: Yee Sup). The word 廿 (Dummy PY: Ya) is kind of like 二十 twenty (Dummy PY: Yee Sup) when you say it really fast.

Twenty one - 二十一/廿一 (Official pron: [yi6][sap6] [yat1], Dummy PY:Yee Sup Yet)

Twenty Two - 二十二 /廿二 (Official pron: [yi6][sap6] [yi6], Dummy PY: Yee Sup Yee)

Twenty Three - 二十三 /廿三 (Official pron: [yi6][sap6] [saam1], Dummy PY: Yee Sup Sarm)

Twenty Four - 二十四/廿四 (Official Pron: [yi6][sap6] [sei3], Dummy PY: Yee Sup Say)

Twenty Five - 二十五/廿五 (Official Pron: [yi6][sap6] [ng5], Dummy PY: Yee Sup um)

Twenty Six - 二十六 /廿六 (Official pron: [yi6][sap6] [luk6], Dummy PY: Yee Sup Look)

Twenty Seven - 二十七 /廿七 (Official pron: [yi6][sap6] [chat1], Dummy PY: Yee Sup Chut)

Twenty Eight - 二十八 /廿八 (Official pron: [yi6][sap6] [baat3], Dummy PY: Yee Sup Bat)

Twenty Nine - 二十九 /廿九 (Official pron: [yi6][sap6] [gau2], Dummy PY: Yee Sup Gow)

Sometimes for the rest of the tens, like thirty, forty, fifty, we also say 三廿 (Dummy PY: Sa ah *Note changes in pronunciations), 四廿(Dummy PY: Say ya *Note changes in pronunciations), 五廿, (Dummy PY: Ng/um ah *Note changes in pronunciations) just because we are lazy, so the syllables can be shortened!

More on numbers? Click the button below to check out this post on telling time with Hong Kongese!