Chinese numbers in Chinese characters

Counting from 1-100 is a must-have skill when it comes to learning a new language. In this article, we will cover Chinese numbers 1-100 and everything you need to know about Chinese numbers! Here are the topics we will talk about…

Let’s learn the numbers in Chinese!! We start with Chinese numbers 1-100.

Chinese Numbers 1-10

Here is how we write numbers 1 to 10 in Chinese. In my opinion, there is not really a shortcut for numbers 1-10. You just have to memorize it. 

Let’s start with the first three, the easest numbers to remember.

Number 1 in Chinese is just one horizontal line:   1   yī

Number 2 in Chinese just adds one more line. 2  èr. The bottom line is slightly longer than the one above 

Number 3 in Chinese Three horizontal lines. Keep in mind that the middle line is the shortest. And the bottom line is the longest: 3   sān

Wouldn’t it be nice if number 4 follows the same pattern as numbers 1 to 3? But it doesn’t. Let’s list the next numbers from 4-10.

4 四  sì

5 五  wǔ

6 六  liù

7 七  qī

8 八  bā

9 九  jiǔ

10 十  shí

Chinese numbers 1-10

Chinese Numbers 11-19

Don’t worry about learning memory any tricks. Just memorize and practice a few more times if necessary. Once you are familiar with the numbers 1-10, the numbers 11-20 are actually pretty easy, since it follows a simple pattern.

The pattern goes like this…

11=10+1, so 11 in Chinese is 十一 shíyī  (literally “ten one”)

12=10+2, so 12 in Chinese is 十二 shíèr (“ten two”)

The same pattern applies to 13 through 19. Try saying those numbers before reading below! 

Did you get those right? 

13=10+3, so 13 in Chinese is 十三 shísān (“ten three”)

14=10+4, so 14 in Chinese is 十四 shísì (“ten four”)

15=10+5, so 15 in Chinese is 十五 shíwǔ (“ten five”)

16=10+6, so 16 in Chinese is 十六 shíliù (“ten six”)

17=10+7, so 17 in Chinese is 十七 shíqī (“ten seven”) 

18=10+8, so 18 in Chinese is 十八 shíbā (“ten eight”)

19=10+9, so 19 in Chinese is 十九 shíjiǔ (“ten nine”)

Chinese numbers 11-19

Chinese Numbers Pattern for Tens

After learning numbers 1 through 19, we come to the number 20. 

In Chinese, the tens numbers follow the same pattern as hundreds, thousands, etc.

For example, we say two hundred to mean two hundred (2 x 100). So instead of twenty, we say “two ten.”

So 20 in Chinese is 二十 èrshí (literally “two ten”)

All the tens numbers follow this pattern.

30 in Chinese is 三十 sānshí (“three ten”)

40 in Chinese is 四十 sìshí (“four ten”)

You can guess the rest.

Chinese numbers pattern for tens

Chinese Numbers 21-100

With the two patterns, you can form any number less than from 1 to 99.

Here are some examples…

21=20+1, so 21 in Chinese is 二十一 èrshíyī (literally “two ten one”)

22=20+2, so 22 in Chinese is 二十二 èrshíèr (“two ten two”)

29=20+9, so 29 in Chinese is 二十九 èrshíjiǔ (“two ten nine”)

38=30+8, so 38 in Chinese is 三十八 sānshíbā (“three-ten eight”)

66=60+6, so 66 in Chinese is 六十六 liùshíliù (“six-ten six”)

And so on…

The last thing you are going to learn in this section is 100!

Hundred is “百 bǎi”

One hundred is 一百 *yìbǎi

* Notice that the tone for “一” has changed from the first tone to the fourth tone. See “Tone Change Rules” below for detail.

Chinese numbers 21-100

To review, here is the table below for Chinese numbers 1-100

0零 / 〇Líng
11十一Shí yī
12十二Shí èr
13十三Shí sān
14十四Shí sì
15十五Shí wǔ
16十六Shí liù
17十七Shí qī
18十八Shí bā
19十九Shí jiǔ
20二十Èr shí
21二十一Èr shí yī
22二十二Èr shí èr
23二十三Èr shí sān
24二十四Èr shí sì
25二十五Èr shí wǔ
26二十六Èr shí liù
27二十七Èr shí qī
28二十八Èr shí bā
29二十九Èr shí jiǔ
30三十Sān shí
31三十一Sān shí yī
32三十二Sān shí èr
33三十三Sān shí sān
34三十四Sān shí sì
35三十五Sān shí wǔ
36三十六Sān shí liù
37三十七Sān shí qī
38三十八Sān shí bā
39三十九Sān shí jiǔ
40四十Sì shí
41四十一Sì shí yī
42四十二Sì shí èr
43四十三Sì shí sān
44四十四Sì shí sì
45四十五Sì shí wǔ
46四十六Sì shí liù
47四十七Sì shí qī
48四十八Sì shí bā
49四十九Sì shí jiǔ
50五十Wǔ shí
51五十一Wǔ shí yī
52五十二Wǔ shí èr
53五十三Wǔ shí sān
54五十四Wǔ shí sì
55五十五Wǔ shí wǔ
56五十六Wǔ shí liù
57五十七Wǔ shí qī
58五十八Wǔ shí bā
59五十九Wǔ shí jiǔ
60六十Liù shí
61六十一Liù shí yī
62六十二Liù shí èr
63六十三Liù shí sān
64六十四Liù shí sì
65六十五Liù shí wǔ
66六十六Liù shí liù
67六十七Liù shí qī
68六十八Liù shí bā
69六十九Liù shí jiǔ
70七十Qī shí
71七十一Qī shí yī
72七十二Qī shí èr
73七十三Qī shí sān
74七十四Qī shí sì
75七十五Qī shí wǔ
76七十六Qī shí liù
77七十七Qī shí qī
78七十八Qī shí bā
79七十九Qī shí jiǔ
80八十Bā shí
81八十一Bā shí yī
82八十二Bā shí èr
83八十三Bā shí sān
84八十四Bā shí sì
85八十五Bā shí wǔ
86八十六Bā shí liù
87八十七Bā shí qī
88八十八Bā shí bā
89八十九Bā shí jiǔ
90九十Jiǔ shí
91九十一Jiǔ shí yī
92九十二Jiǔ shí èr
93九十三Jiǔ shí sān
94九十四Jiǔ shí sì
95九十五Jiǔ shí wǔ
96九十六Jiǔ shí liù
97九十七Jiǔ shí qī
98九十八Jiǔ shí bā
99九十九Jiǔ shí jiǔ
100一百Yì bǎi

And you also can download this infographic (just right click and download it!)  

Chinese numbers 1-100

If you are a teacher, you are welcome to check out those vivid Chinese posters, including numbers in Chinese poster.

After learning Chinese numbers 1-100, let’s move on to the higher numbers.

Chinese Numbers 100 and Up (Large Numbers in Chinese)

– Chinese Characters for Hundred, Thousand, Ten Thousand, Hundred Million and Trillion.


Hundred: 百 bǎi – 100 (2 zeros)

Thousand: 千 qiān – 1000 (3 zeros)

Ten thousand: 万 wàn – 10000 (4 zeros)

Hundred million: 亿 yì – 10000000 (7 zeros)

Trillion: 兆 zhào – 1000000000000 (12 zeros)

– Numbers 101-109

This is how we read the number 101 in Chinese,

101 一百零一 yì bǎi líng yī (零 líng means “zero”)

 一百零一 broke down into individual character, literally means “one-hundred-zero-one”


102 一百零二 yì bǎi líng èr

“一百” “零” and “二” literally means “one-hundred-zero-two”

Follow the same pattern for the next few numbers up to 109.

Chinese numbers 101-109

– Numbers 110-119

For the numbers 10 to 19 within large numbers, it gets a bit tricky. 

For number 110, we read as “一百 一十 yìbǎi yīshí” instead of “一百 yìbǎishí.” Normally we just say 十 shí for ten, but in the large numbers, we add 一 yī in front of 十 shí. 

Same for the rest, 

111, we read as “一百 一十一 yìbǎi yīshíyī” literally means “one-hundred-one-ten-one.”

112, we read as “一百 一十二 yìbǎi yīshíèr” literally means “one-hundred-one-ten-two.” 

This will apply to all the larger numbers when 10 to 19 are involved. For 3910, we read as “三千九百 一十 sān qiān jiǔ bǎi yī shí.” Or literally “three-thousand-one-hundred-one-ten.” 

Chinese numbers 110-119

– Numbers 120-200

These next numbers are pretty straight forward. 

120 is read as 一百二十     (one-hundred-two-ten)

156 is read as 一百五十六     (one-hundred-five-ten-six)

178 is read as 一百七十八     (one-hundred-seven-ten-eight)

190 is read as 一百九十   (one-hundred-nine-ten)

200 can be read as 二百, but the more common way say 200 is “两百 liǎngbǎi.” You can learn more about this in the “Chinese number 2: When to say 二 èr? When to say 两 liǎng?” section below.

– Numbers 201-999

Let’s try some bigger numbers. See if you can say them correctly. 






Check your answers below.

506 五百零六   “five-hundred-zero-six”

418 四百一十八 “four-hundred-one-ten-eight”

790 七百九十  “seven-hundred-nine-ten”

816 八百一十六 “eight-hundred-one-ten-six”

999 九百九十九 “nine-hundred-nine-ten-nine”

Chinese numbers 120-999


Download this infographic! It not only includes Chinese numbers 1-100, also the numbers up to

Numbers up to 999 in Chinese

– Numbers 1000 and up

When talking about large numbers, the main points we should address,

Large numbers in Chinese

First, We place commas every four digits, unlike in English, where commas are placed every three digits. (Note: since international communications are very common nowadays, placing commas every three digits are getting popular in China and Taiwan.) 

In Chinese, here are the categories for each comma in ascending order: “small number,” “万 wàn, Ten thousand,” “亿 yì, Hundred Million,” and “兆 zhào, Trillion.”  

As you can see from the infographic above, there are 4 digits in each category.

The place values for each category are as follows:

Small numbers category: 个 ge, 十 shí, 百 bǎi, and 千 qiān. 

万 wàn category: 万, 十万,  百万, and 千万

亿 yì category: 亿, 十亿,  百亿, and 千亿

兆 zhào category: 兆, 十兆,  百兆, and 千兆


Let’s use this big number as an example: 7915348

large numbers to Chinese character

How do we write and read this number in Chinese? Don’t panic! Let’s learn this step by step!

  1. Write down the numbers in numerals (just the numbers). → 7915348
  2. Place a comma every 4 digits → 791,5348.
  3. The first 3 numbers are 791, which you will say 七百九十一 (“seven-hundred-nine-ten-one”). Because this number is in the “万 Wàn category,” we combine them as “七百九十一” (“seven-hundred-nine-ten-one-ten thousand“).
  4. The last 4 numbers are 5348, which you will say 五千三百四十八. (“five-thousand-three-hundred-four-ten-eight”)
  5. Combine step 3 & 4, this is how you say this number 七百九十一万五千三百四十八. (“seven-hundred-nine-ten-one-ten thousand-five-thousand-three-hundred-four-ten-eight“)

Not too hard, right!?  

And what happens if you hear someone say a large number in Chinese? Here is how to figure out what that number is: 

When you hear a number in Chinese

  1. Write down the number in Chinese characters or pinyin. For instance, you hear 九十八万七千一百二十 jiǔ shí bā wàn qī qiān yī bǎi èr shí
  2. See if there is/are “万” “亿”, “兆” in the number. In this case, you will find “万” 
  3. Separate them by categories. In this case, the number is separated into two categories, 1. small numbers, and 2. 万 wàn ten thousand.
  4. In the 万 wàn category, you see the characters “九十八”, and that is “98” (don’t worry about “万” here. It is just for the category.)
  5. In the small numbers group, you see the characters “七千一百二十,” and that is “7120.”
  6. Combine step 4 & 5, and we get the number 987120.


Do you know how to deal with large numbers in Chinese now? Try quizzing yourself with this infographic. The answer key is upside down.

Large number practice

You can come here to download the high-quality “big numbers in Chinese” infographic.

The Use of Zero in Chinese

zeros in Chinese

Zero is a bit tricky in Chinese. That is why there is a whole section devoted to this. But don’t worry, once you learn the rules, it’ll become second nature to you.

– When The Tens Digit Is Zero in Numbers Larger Than 100

For numbers greater than 100 with a zero in the tens place, the structure is like this: x + 百 + 零 + y

101: 一百零一 (one-hundred-zero-one)

305: 三百零五 (three-hundred-zero-five)

407: 四百零七 (four-hundred-zero-seven)

908: 九百零八 (nine-hundred-zero-eight)

When the tens digit is zero in numbers larger than 100

– Zero in The Ones Digit 

The structure is like this: x + 百 + y + 十 

110: 一百一十 (one-hundred-one*-ten)

760: 七百六十 (seven-hundred-six-ten)

920: 九百二十 (nine-hundred-two-ten)

*If the number is just 10, we just say ten 十 shí. But in numbers above 100, we say “one” before the ten.


Zero in the ones digit 

– One Thousand and Up

Similar to the rules in hundreds. But if you have more than ONE ZERO in a row, you just say “zero” once.

1001: 一千零一 (one-thousand-zero)

3,0002: 三万零二 (three-ten thousand-zero-two)

5080: 五千零八十  (five-zero-eight-zero)

One thousand and up

But wait! You may be asking… what if you hear someone say a large number and you hear “líng,” how do you know if that is just one zero or multiple zeros? Let’s cover that now.

big number in Chinese with zeros example


If you hear… 八亿零五十万零九十  bā yì líng wǔ shí wàn líng jiǔ shí

  1. Separate by categories: “兆”, “亿”, “万” and small numbers. So in this case, it becomes “八亿”  “零五十万” and “零九十”. 
  2. Remember in Chinese each category has 4 digits since we put commas at every 4 digits.
  3. The first one is “八亿”, so you can write “8.” Then we have “零五十万” which is “五十.” So that is a “50” in the 万 category. Because there are 4 digits in each category, we need to put 2 zeros before the 50. It becomes “0050.” Then “零九十”, which is “九十 90.” So it becomes “0090.” Combine all of them together and we get the number “8,0050,0090.” 

Practice with the numbers below. Answers are upside down.

big number with zeros practice


If you would like to download the high-quality “zeros in Chinese,” click here!

Watch this video to learn!

Now that we have learned how to say any numbers from zero to 1,000,0000,0000 in Chinese, you may wonder if there are ways to say even bigger numbers in Chinese? Of course, there are higher numbers, but we won’t go into it here. The numbers from zero to a trillion should keep you busy for a while.

Chinese Number 2: When to Say 二 èr? When to Say 两 liǎng?

If you have learned Chinese for a little while, you may notice that when we see “2,” we sometimes pronounce it as “二 èr,” but sometimes we say it as “两 liǎng.” So when do we say which? The infographic below will walk us through it.



  • We use 二 èr in these two circumstances:
  1. When giving a phone number

If your number is 432-722-1272, we read it as 四三二  七二二 一二七二

       2.When saying the ordinal number, which means “second”

For the “second one,” we read it as 第二个 (dì èr ge)

For the “second time,” we read it as 第二次 (dì èr cì)

  • We use 两 liǎng…

When talking about “two of something” or “both”

For “two cups of tea,” we say 两杯茶

When counting numbers, it becomes a bit tricky… But don’t worry. Let me explain. Here is an example number: 2,2222,2222,2222


Rule #1: We always read “2” as “二” if it is in the “ones” place of the small numbers category. 

Rule #2: Every “2” in the “tens” place of “兆”, “亿”, “万” or “small numbers”  categories, we always read as ““. Which you can see in red. (So ALL THE RED ONES read as )

Rule #3: Every “2” in the “thousands” and “hundreds” place of “兆”, “亿”, “万” and “small numbers” categories, we always read as “两”. Which you can see in blue.

Rule #4: If the “2” is the only number in its category, e.g., 2,3782, we read the 2 as “” even though it is in the ones place of that category. So we say “两万三千七百八十二.” Notice that the second “2” is “二” which follows Rule #1 above.

Another example, 2,8503,9278, we read the 2 as “两” even though it is in the ones place of that category. So we say “两亿八千五百零三万九千两百七十八.” Notice that the second “2” is “两” as well, which follows Rule #3 above.

Rule #5: If the “2” is in the “ones” place of “兆”, “亿”, “万” categories, but has other numbers before it, then we read it as “二.” E.g., 32, 6282, we say 三十二万六千两百八十二

Quick review

Just remember the number above, 

  • 2 in reds place say “二”, 
  • 2 in blues say “两”,
  • 2 in highlights: if they are the only number in their category, say “两”, otherwise say “二.”

We made a video to teach you step-by-step (up to 4 digits). Visit our Patreon page to check out more videos and infographics.

Chinese Phone Numbers

  • In China

When giving a phone number, you just read the digits. But there is one thing to keep in mind,

For the number “1,” when giving the phone number in China, we pronounce it as “yāo.” The reason for doing this is to differentiate the sound of the number “1” from the number “7,” which is “qī.” Normally “1” is pronounced 一 yī which can sometimes be confused with 七 qī.

In mainland China, cell phone numbers have 11 digits in the format 1xx-xxxx-xxxx. The first three digits (e.g. 13x, 14x,15x,17x and 18x) designate the mobile phone service provider.  

For instance, if you are giving your cell phone number to a new friend, your cell phone number is 134-5678-9012 (This is just a made-up number, but it could still be a real number. Don’t actually call this number.)

To say this number in Chinese, you would say Yāo sān sì wǔ liù qī bā jiǔ líng yāo èr


  • In Taiwan, the number 1 is pronounced as “yī.”

In Taiwan, cell phone numbers have 10 digits in the format 09xx-xxx-xxx. Originally, the first four digits were used to designate the service provider. But a few years ago, they changed the policy, so that you can transfer your number to a different provider. 

Emergency Numbers in China and Taiwan

  • In China

Police 110 

Ambulance 120

Fire 119

  • In Taiwan

Police 110

Ambulance and Fire: 119

It seems like a lot of numbers to remember, but the most important number is 110. In any emergency, just call this number and they will connect you to the proper department.

Dates and Times in Chinese

Soon after I started learning English as a second language, I realized that the months and the dates of the week are complicated in English. (So please don’t complain Chinese is hard.)

In Chinese, once you know the numbers, you pretty much can say any time element in Chinese. Let’s dive in! 

Keywords to know: 

  • Year in Chinese: 年 nián. 

The year of 2019:  二〇一九 年 (èr líng yī jiǔ nián, “two-zero-one-nine-year”). 

The year of 2020: 二〇二〇 年 (èr líng èr líng nián, “two-zero-two-zero-year”). 

  • Month in Chinese: 月 yuè. 

January:  一月 yīyuè. The first month of the year, simply just add number 1, 一 yī, before 月 yuè. The same pattern applies to all the months.

March: 三月 (sān yuè). 

December: 十二月 (shí èr yuè)

  • Date: 日 rì or 号 hào.

3rd day of the month: 三日 (sān rì)

October 6: 十月六日 (shí yuè liù rì) or 十月六号 (shí yuè liù hào)

  • Week: 星期 xīngqī*

Monday: 星期一 (xīngqī yī)

Tuesday: 星期二 (xīngqī èr)

Friday: 星期五 (xīngqī wǔ)

Sunday: 星期日 (xīngqī rì) or 星期天 (xīngqītiān).

* 星期 xīng is used in China, whereas 星期 xīngis used in Taiwan. Note the difference in tones.

  • Hour: 点 diǎn

3 o’clock: 三点 (sān diǎn)

9 o’clock: 九点 (jiǔ diǎn)

  • Minute: 分 fēn 

9:10: 九点十分 (jiǔ diǎn shí fēn)

12:59: 十二点 五十九分 (shíèr diǎn wǔshíjiǔ fēn)

  • Second: 秒 miǎo

One second: 一秒 (yì miǎo)

Ten seconds: 十秒 (shí miǎo)

A little tip in Chinese grammar: whenever we talk about time, we always put the time elements in the order from largest to smallest. (I call it the Chinese time order slide. Check out the infographic below.)

Time order in Chinese

For instance,

3 o’clock on Tuesday → We say the day first, then the time → 星期二 三点

September 11th, 2001→ We say the year first, then the month, and lastly the day → 两千零一 年 九月十一日

You can check out more details about time in these two articles with infographics. Time order in Chinese and Time (Past, Present, Future).

Age in Chinese

Numbers can be used when talking about age. Here are some keywords for you to know first.


suìYear old
How many
几岁jǐsuìHow old


Simple phrase examples:

Six years old: 六岁 (liù suì)

Three and a half years old: 三岁 半 (sān suì bàn)

Eight months old: 八个月 (bā ge yuè)

How old: 几岁 (jǐ suì)


Full-sentence examples:

I am six years old this year: 我今年六岁。(wǒ jín nián liù suì)

My dad is forty years old: 我爸爸四十岁


A: How old is your little brother? 你弟弟几岁?

B: He is three and a half years old. 他三岁半。

Chinese Ordinal Numbers

Earlier when we talked about dates in Chinese, you may have noticed that Chinese is simpler than English. Ordinal numbers work the same way.

These are pretty straight forward. The structure of a simple phrase is just adding the word “第 dì” before the number.

Simple phrase examples:

First: 第一 (dì yī)

Second: 第二 (dì èr)

Third: 第三 (dì sān)

When we use ordinal numbers, they usually don’t appear by themselves. For instance,

If you won “first place” in a competition. (“first” is accompanied with “place”)

If you are having the second cup of coffee today.

If you just finished watching the “third movie” for the day.


In Chinese, the structure will look like this:

第 + number + (measure word) + noun


First place: 第一名(dì yī míng)

Second cup of coffee: 第二杯咖啡 (dì èr bēi kā fēi)

Third movie: 第三个电影 (dì sān ge diàn yǐng)

What Are The Lucky Numbers in Chinese? And What Are Unlucky Numbers in Chinese?

In most cultures, some numbers are more meaningful than others. Knowing the lucky, as well as unlucky, numbers in Chinese will help you understand a bit of Chinese culture. Let’s start with the auspicious numbers in Chinese.

Number 2 is considered a lucky number in Chinese. In Chinese culture, good things come in pairs. 

Number 6 is also considered a lucky number in Chinese. Its pronunciation “liù” is close to the word “流 liú” which means “flow.” Many businesses display this number somewhere in their facility, especially by the front entrance. They believe that display this number will signify that fortune will flow in.

Number 8 is another lucky number in Chinese. Its pronunciation “bā” rhymes with the word “发 fā” which means “worth” and “fortune.” The year when China hosted the Beijing Olympics, the opening ceremony started at 8:08 pm on 8/8/2008. And that is no coincidence!

Number 9 is considered a lucky number in Chinese. Its pronunciation “jiǔ” is the same as the word “久 jiǔ” which means long and forever. It is believed that this number represents a long-lasting life. 

So far we’ve looked at the common lucky numbers in Chinese culture.


Are there any inauspicious numbers in Chinese?

Number 4 is considered unlucky in Chinese because its pronunciation is very close to 死 sǐ, which means “death” in Chinese. In many buildings in China, like hospitals and apartments, they even skip the “fourth-floor.” So there is a third floor and the floor above it is the “fifth floor.”


Other numbers can be either lucky or unlucky depending on the occasion. 

Number 0

Lucky: Some consider this number as the beginning of everything.

Unlucky: Zero represents “no” or “nothing.” Some believe it brings “no fortune.”  

Number 1

Lucky: It can mean the first place in a competition. 

Unlucky: It can also mean loneliness or solitude, not able to be paired. The “Singles Day” in China is November 11 (11/11.)

Number 3 

Lucky: 三 sān sounds like “生 shēng.” 生 shēng means “birth” and “life.”

Unlucky: But 三 sān also sounds like “散 sàn,” which means “break” or “separate,” as in relationships.

Number 5

Lucky: Five is associated with the five elements in Chinese philosophy. We call it “五行 wǔ xíng,” which includes Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood. Another example of number five in Chinese history is that the Tiananmen gate has five arches.

Unlucky: The pronunciation for number 5 is “wǔ,” and sounds like the word “无 wú,” which means “do not have any.”

Number 7

Lucky: “七 qī,” Chinese Valentine’s Day is on the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

Unlucky: The seventh month of the lunar calendar is also known as the “ghost” month. Some people believe the door of hell will open on the first day and close on the last day of the month.

lucky and unlucky numbers in Chinese

Chinese Number Slang

The internet and texting have become important parts of our life. So knowing some Chinese internet slang may be necessary. Let’s talk about some Chinese number slang.

Chinese number slang

1314 (yī sān yī sì)

Meaning: Forever.

1314 sounds similar to 一生一世  (yì shēng yí shì), which means “for the rest of my life” or “forever.” 

250 (èr bǎi wǔ):

Meaning: Idiot

Many of the Chinese slang is related to the pronunciation, but not this one. This is an insulting slang. It comes from the fact that Chinese coins used to have a hole in the middle so that they could be strung together in amounts of 1000 (called a diào (吊).  The term bàn diào zi (半吊子), or half a diào, referred to someone not having full knowledge.  Bàn diào zi (半吊子) was used to describe oneself in a humble manner and not necessarily negative. However, half of a half diào, which is 250, or èr bǎi wǔ (二百五) was half of the half-wit, which definitely is an insult.  

484 (sìbāsì)

Meaning: Yes or no.

484 sounds similar to 是不是  (shì bú shì), which means yes or not in Chinese.

520 (wǔ èr líng)

Meaning: I love you. The pronunciation of 520 is pretty close to “I love you” in Chinese, which is 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ). 

I have heard people tell me that they don’t think 520 sounds like 我爱你 (wǒ ài nǐ). Well, I understand the point. But expressing love is always an important part of any language. Typing numbers is pretty fast and easy. These three numbers are the closest pronunciation to express “I love you” in Chinese. So that’s why it is used!  

555 (wǔ wǔ wǔ)

Meaning: Crying noise.

555 sounds similar to the Chinese onomatopoeia for the crying noise, which is 呜呜呜(wū wū wū).

7456 (qī sì wǔ liù):

Meaning: I am so angry!

气死我了(qì sǐ wǒ le) sounds like 7456. It literally means (something or someone) is angering me to death!

88 (bābā) (881, 886)

Meaning: Goodbye.

88 sounds like “bye-bye” in English. 881 sounds like bye byeeee. And 886 represents adding “了” after bye-bye. It could roughly translate to “bye-bye then” in English.

995 (jiǔjiǔwǔ):

Meaning: Help me!

995 sounds like 救救我(jiùjiùwǒ) which means “help me.”

Like Chinese slang? We made another fun infographic about Relationship Related Chinese Slang! Check it out!

Simple Math in Chinese

Don’t worry! We’re not doing any difficult math here. Just a few examples to show you how to say some simple math in Chinese.

Keywords to know

Math symbolHanziPinyin  
✖️乘(以)chéng (yǐ)
除(以)chú (yǐ)
…%百分之... bǎifēnzhī…
X / YY分之XY fēnzhī X

  • 3+5=8, we read as “三 加 五 等于 八”
  • 9-7=2, we read as “九 减 七等于 二”
  • 4*6=24, we read as “四 乘以 六 等于 二十四”
  • 72/8=9, we read as “七十二 除以 八 等于 九”
  • 45.6, we read as “四十五 点 六”
  • 0.03, we read as “零 点 零 三”
  • ½, we read as “二 分之 一” (In Chinese, the denominator is first, then the numerator)
  • 80%, we read as “百分之 八十” (80% equals 80/100, so we say the 100 first, then the 80)
  • 5 > 3, we read as “五 大于 三”
  • 4 < 8, we read as “四 小于 八”

Tone Change Rules for Number 1

Tone change rules for number 1

There are a few cases in Chinese where you have to change the pronunciation of a certain character. Number 1 一 yī happens to be one of them.

  • We read 一 as “yī” when “一” appears as a number in a series, address, dates, etc…

For instance:

2011年1月11日: we read it as èr líng yīyī nián yī yuè shíyī rì 

311: we read as sānbǎi yīshíyī


  • We read 一 as “yí” when “一” is followed by a character in the 4th tone 

For instance: 一片 yí piàn. 片 piàn is in the 4th tone, so 一 is pronounced in the 2nd tone 


  • We read 一 as “yì” when “一” is followed by a character in the other tones (1st, 2nd, 3rd and neutral tone)

For instance: 

一双 yì shuāng

一条 yì tiáo

一本 yì běn

一个 yì ge

If you are curious about what other situations the tone would be changed, check out this article “Tone change rules.” 

Chinese Number Writing in Complex Forms

It is rarer to see this in daily life. Here is the list of the complex forms of numbers in Chinese characters.

0: 零 líng

1: 壹 yī

2: 貳 èr

3: 參 sān

4: 肆

5: 伍

6: 陸 liù

7: 柒

8: 捌

9: 玖 jiǔ

10: 拾 shí

100: 佰 bǎi

1000: 仟 qiān

10000: 萬 wàn

1,0000,0000: 億 yì

1,0000,0000,0000: 兆 zhào

NumberNormal Chinese CharacterComplex FormPinyin 

Chinese numbers in complex forms are used mainly in notarized, official documents (like contracts), and when writing checks. An exception is zero; the complex form is much more widely used than a casual circle (“0”). The complex forms are known in English as banker’s anti-fraud numerals, in Chinese as 大寫 dàxiě (which is the same term for “capitalized letters”). They are necessary because normal Chinese characters are too simple, so a forger could easily change some numbers. For instance, let’s take the number 110, which is 一百一十. A forger just needs to add three strokes (shown in red below) to change 110 to 370, 三百七十. Using the complex form (參佰柒拾) will prevent this kind of forgery.

Chinese Number Gestures 

Number gestures are similar around the world. Below is the table of the most commonly used gestures for numbers 1-10 in different parts of the Chinese speaking world. Numbers 1-6 are the same. But 7-10 differ based on the region. How do these hand gestures compare to yours?

Chinese numbers hand gesters


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