# Understanding the Use of Numbers in Mandarin Chinese

Mandarin Chinese numbers are one of the first things a student should learn. Besides being used for counting and money, they are also used for time expressions such as weekdays and months.

The Mandarin numbering system is a bit different from English. For example, the number '2' has two forms. 二 (èr) is used for counting, and 兩 / 两 (traditional/simplified) (liǎng) is used with a measure word. Measure words are used extensively in Mandarin Chinese and specify the 'type' of the thing being discussed. The most common 'all purpose' measure word is 個 / 个 (). Note that the pronunciation spellings used here are Pinyin.

This article focuses on the actual numbers. If you want advice on how to learn to count in Mandarin with a step-by-step guide, check out this article: Learning to count in Chinese

## Large Numbers

Large numbers also present a challenge. The next major division after 1,000 is 10,000, written as 一萬 / 一万 ( yī wàn). So, numbers above 10,000 are expressed as "one ten thousand," "two ten thousands" and so on up to 100,000,000, which is a new character 億 / 亿 (yì).

The only vocabulary needed for all the numbers up to 100 are 0 to 10. The numbers from 10 to 19 are expressed as '10-1' (11), '10-2' (12) etc.

Twenty is expressed as '2-10', thirty is '3-10' etc.

When there is a zero in a number, such as '101', it must be stated: for example one-hundred zero one (yī bǎi líng yī).

## Learn By Doing

The best way of learning is by doing. Start counting things you encounter in your everyday life in Mandarin, such as the number of steps in the stairs, how much time there's left before you get off work, or how many push-ups you've done.

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