Numbers have a special place in Chinese culture. They are very closely associated with one’s fortune. Let’s learn some Chinese and practice our numerical skills at the same time. Learning number characters offers a good introduction to the language, and to learning the names of dates and weekdays.
Numbers in Chinese Characters
These actually cover the numbers from zero to 999 in Chinese characters
零 líng zero;
一yī one; 二èr two; 三 sān three; 四sì four; 五wǔ five;
六 liù six; 七qī seven; 八bā eight; 九jiǔnine; 十shí ten ;
百bǎi one hundred
It should come as no surprise that 十一shí yī is 11, or that 二十五
èr shí wǔ is 25
Quiz Part One
With that in mind, consider the following quiz.
Give the numerical equivalent of
(a) 四十九sì shí jiǔ
And this should not be too difficult
(b) 一百八十九yī bǎi jiǔshí jiǔ
And even this WITHOUT PINYIN
But what about some arithmetic
(d) 四 plus三 = ?
Or to get into double digits
(e) 三十九 plus 二十六= ?
Or a multiplication question
(f) 八 times (x) 七= ?
The Utility of Numbers Extends to Days of the Week
Let’s add to our vocabulary
星期xīngqī week ;是 shì is ;今天jīntiān today ;
明天míngtiān tomorrow and 昨天 zuótiān yesterday
The first day of the week is Monday (in China)
星期一xīngqī yī Monday, which means that the second day is
Quiz Part Two
So if: jīntiān shì xīngqīsì that is今天是四星期
What can we say about
(g) 昨天 zuótiān or about (h) 明天 míngtiān
And if you have a big date on星期六, (i) what night should you show up?
This All Works for Dates as Well.
We will need some new vocabulary, of course
月yuè month; 年nián year; 号 hào day or date
We should all know that the Beijing Olympics began on August 8, 2008
In Chinese this is二零零八年八月八号, èr líng líng bā nián bā yuè bā hào
Literally 2008 year, 8 month 8 day (or date). Eight is a very lucky number in China
So here is our final question:
If 今天是十一月一号jīntiān shì shíyī yuè yī hào
(i) 昨天 zuótiān ?
(a)49(b)189(c) 999(d) (4+3=7)(e) (39+26=65) (f) (8X7=56)
If today is Thursday, then yesterday was (g) Wednesday and tomorrow will be (h) Friday.Your date is on Saturday night
And be sure to watch out for Sunday, which is not星期七 xīngqīqī. Instead, it is
星期天xīngqītiān(i) today is November 1.Yesterday was October 31.Happy Halloween!