Numbers revisited

I have moved a bit closer to remembering the Korean number systems and learned a new term relating to age 🙂 here are my notes in case you can use them too.

Native Korean numbers:
– Age
– Ordinal numbers, e.g. giving orders and telling someone what to do first, second, and third. Notice 첫 번제 for “first”.
– Before counters
– Telling the time: Hours only

20: 스물
30: 서른
40: 마흔
50: 쉰
60: 예순
70: 일흔
80: 여든
90: 아흔

More about age:
Since all Koreans age by one year on Korean New Year rather than on their birthdays there is a term for those who were born in one calendar year, but are considered a year older since they were born before Korean New Year that year:
빠른 xx : 빠른 92 [빠른 구이] ~ born in ’92 but as old as those born in ’91. Literally someone who was born “quickly” in ’92 and therefore happens to be a year older than someone born later in the same calendar year.

More about time:
정오: noon
오전: before noon
오후: after noon
This is said before telling the time so the listener is already mentally prepared for whether you mean before or after noon when hearing the time.

Chinese numbers:
– Floors in a building
– Telling the time: minutes and seconds
– ID/social security numbers

Really, really formal situations can warrant using Chinese numbers rather than native Korean numbers in cases where you would normally use Native Korean numbers. For instance in the army they take formality a notch higher than regular society and will use Chinese numbers in the following instances – even if sounds odd to a regular Korean:
– Age
– Hours
– Before counters

More about the number zero:
영: zero (0.0000001%)
빵: zero (빵 점 ~ zero points e.g. in an exam)
공: zero (in phone numbers. Many Korean mobile phone numbers start with 010- which is pronounced 공-일-공-에, the “에” being the dash).


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