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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Jae here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Korean questions.
The question for this lesson is…
What are the differences between the number systems in Korean?
There are two number systems in Korean. One is called the Native Korean number system, and the other is called the Sino-Korean number system.
The Native Korean number system is used for general counting, like when you’re counting out loud, up to 99. It’s also used to count people, hours, things, ages, and more. Sino-Korean numbers are used for things like dates, money, minutes, addresses, phone numbers, and numbers above 100.
Let’s do some examples so you can understand how to use Native Korean numbers and Sino-Korean numbers correctly.
Let’s say you want to buy two apples. Since the number two is below 99, you will use the Native Korean number system. The world “apple” in Korean is 사과[sagwa], so two apples would be 사과 두 개[sagwa du gae].
What if you need a lot more apples? How about 120 apples? Since 120 is above 99, you will change to the Sino-Korean number system. So, “120 apples” in Korean would be 사과 백이십 개 [sagwa baegisip gae].
Let’s do an example with time. Let’s say someone asks you the time, and it’s 2:35 in the afternoon. How would you answer? Here’s a hint, it’s a little tricky. The counter for hours is 시[si], and we need a Native Korean number to read hours. So 2 o'clock will be 두 시 [du si] using Native Korean number for "two."
The counter for minutes is 분 [bun] and we need a Sino-Korean number to read minutes. So 35 minutes will be 삼십오 분 [samsibo bun] using Sino-Korean number for "thirty five."
Then, put the word for “afternoon” at the beginning, which is 오후[ohu], followed by the time. All together it will be, 오후 두 시 삼십오 분입니다. [Ohu du si samsibo bunimnida.] “It’s 2:35 in the afternoon.”
There’s no quick and easy way for remembering the rules for when to use which number system. However, there are some basic general guidelines. Learn those, and you’ll be good for many different situations in Korean! Remember, we have videos on both number systems at KoreanClass101.com, so be sure to check them out!
How was this lesson? Did that clear things up?
Please leave any more questions in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
See you next time. 다음 시간에 만나요. (Daeum-sigane mannayo.)