We use a lot of numbers in our daily life, such as asking for prices, ordering food, reading a house number, or creating a report at work. When you travel, for example in Vietnam, being able to count Vietnamese numbers is a huge advantage. This can help you check the prices before you pay for anything when you travel or ask for directions when you get lost.
In today's lesson, I will help you learn everything about Vietnamese numbers and how to count in regular situations. Let's get started!
The Vietnamese language uses the Arabic numerals as in English. This makes it easy to learn numbers in Vietnamese as you just need to learn how to pronounce them in this language, without remembering how the numbers look like as in Thai.
This is how you count in Vietnamese from 1 to 10:
|4||four||bốn (also: tư)|
From 11 to 19, the number is a summary of 10 and another number from 1 to 9. For example, 11 = 10 + 1, 15 = 10 + 5.
Therefore, you can combine the pronunciation of the number ten with the pronunciation of the other number from one to nine. Here are how to count in Vietnamese from 11 to 19:
|15||fifteen||mười lăm (not mười năm)|
From 20 to 999, there are some rules to count in Vietnamese that you need to remember and practice.
From the previous section of the article, we already knew how to combine the pronunciation of ten and the other number. For 20, 30 40,...,90, the way to count them is similar. However, the pronunciation of the number 10 is changed from 'mười' to 'mươi'. 'Mười' has a low falling tone while 'mươi' is pronounced in a mid-level tone (flat tone).
In the spoken Vietnamese language, people sometimes replace the word 'mươi' with 'chục' which also means ten. This kind of counting is more popular in informal situations.
|Numerals||English||Vietnamese (formal)||Vietnamese (informal)|
|20||twenty||hai mươi||hai chục|
|30||thirty||ba mươi||ba chục|
|40||forty||bốn mươi||bốn chục|
|50||fifty||năm mươi||năm chục|
|60||sixty||sáu mươi||sáu chục|
|70||seventy||bảy mươi||bảy chục|
|80||eighty||tám mươi||tám chục|
|90||ninety||chín mươi||chín chục|
For 21, 31, 41, ..., 91, you will combine the pronunciation of numbers 20, 30, 40, ..., 90, with the pronunciation of number 1. However, instead of saying 'một' for number one with a heavy tone (thanh nặng), say 'mốt' with a high rising tone. Let's check the following examples:
|21||twenty-one||hai mươi mốt|
|31||thirty-one||ba mươi mốt|
|91||ninety-one||chín mươi mốt|
In a number that has more than 1 digit, the digit 5 in the unit will be pronounced as 'lăm' instead of 'năm' (five). Let's look at the following numbers:
15 - mười lăm,
25 - hai mươi lăm (or hai lăm)
55 - năm mươi lăm (or năm lăm)
555 - năm trăm năm mươi lăm
By breaking down a big number into smaller numbers, we can find a way to read them. For example, 36 = 30 + 6, we will say thirty-six in English. In Vietnamese, you will say 'ba mươi sáu' without a hyphen. Below are some more examples to practice:
47 = 40 + 7, say 'bốn mươi bảy' for forty-seven
93 = 90 + 3, say 'chín mươi ba' for ninety-three
The word 'mươi' can be removed to make a short form such as 'bốn bảy' (47), 'chín ba' (93).
How about number 125? Well, 125 = 100 + 20 + 5, so you will need to count 100 first, then 20, and 5 at the last. We will learn how to say 100, 200, ..., 900 in the next section.
One hundred (100) in Vietnamese is 'một trăm'. The word 'trăm' literally means 'hundred'. So, you can count two hundred, three hundred, etc. as below:
|100||one hundred||một trăm|
|200||two hundred||hai trăm|
|300||three hundred||ba trăm|
|400||four hundred||bốn trăm|
|500||five hundred||năm trăm|
|600||six hundred||sáu trăm|
|700||seven hundred||bảy trăm|
|800||eight hundred||tám trăm|
|900||nine hundred||chín trăm|
When it comes to numbers with the format x0y with x, y from 1 to 9, use the word 'lẻ' or 'linh' between x and y. Look at the numbers below to get the idea:
101 - một trăm lẻ một / một trăm linh một
209 - hai trăm lẻ chín / hai trăm linh chín
905 - chín trăm lẻ năm / chín trăm linh năm
A thousand or a million is a big number. If you go to Vietnam, you will know that Vietnamese money has a lot of zeros. At the time this article is written, 500 VND is the smallest note and 1,000,000 VND is the biggest note in the market. So, it is very useful to learn how to say a thousand, a million, and a billion in Vietnamese.
|1000||one thousand||một nghìn (Northern dialect) / một ngàn (Southern dialect)|
|10,000||ten thousand||một vạn|
|1,000,000||one million||một triệu|
|1,000,000,000||one billion||một tỷ|
If you want to say 9 million, then replace 'một' (one) with 'chín' (nine). So it will be 'chín triệu'.
Decimals are called 'số thập phân' in Vietnamese. In Vietnamese, a comma (,) is used to separate the whole number part and the fractional part. For example, people write 3,5 instead of 3.5 for three and a half.
The comma is called 'phẩy', or 'dấu phẩy'. The point, or dot, is called 'chấm', or 'dấu chấm'.
To read a decimal in Vietnamese, you need to read the whole number part, then 'phẩy', then the fractional part. For example, 3,5 will be read as 'ba phẩy năm'.
To read fractions in the Vietnamese language, you need to read the part first, then 'phần', then the whole. For example, 2/3 will be read as 'hai phần ba'.
If you see a whole number with a fraction, such as one and two thirds (1 2/3), read the whole number 1, then read the fraction 2/3 after. It should sound like 'một hai phần ba'.
Ordinal numbers such as first, second, third, are used to signify an order. In Vietnamese, ordinal numbers are usually used for ranking, days of a week, or when listing things or events in order.
The ordinal numbers in Vietnamese are a bit different from the counting numbers, but they have some parts in common. Usually, you can add 'thứ' before the word for counting numbers in Vietnamese, to create an ordinal number. The following table will show you some special ordinal numbers that don't follow the mentioned rule.
|second||thứ nhì / thứ hai|
|fourteenth||thứ mười bốn|
|twentieth||thứ hai mươi|
|twenty-first||thứ hai mốt|
|twenty-fourth||thứ hai tư|
|thirty-fourth||thứ ba tư|
The Vietnamese phrase for phone numbers is 'số điện thoại'. You might see its abbreviation SĐT on a name card or a name board of restaurants and shops in Vietnam.
It is easy to read a phone number in Vietnamese. You just need to read each digit as a counting number. Vietnamese people usually read a bunch of digits together like 3 or 4 digits together. This creates a rhythm and somehow helps other people remember the phone number faster. For example, the phone number 0969123456 will be read as below:
Không chín sáu chín, một hai ba, bốn năm sáu.
There are some service numbers that have only 3 digits with the digit 0 in the middle, such as 101, 202. In this situation, you can say 'một lẻ một' or 'một linh một' (101), 'hai lẻ hai' or 'hai linh hai' (202).
If you want to call a friend in Vietnam, remember to add +84 which is the country calling code for Vietnamese numbers.
To ask someone their phone number, you can ask 'Số điện thoại của bạn là bao nhiêu?' (what is your phone number?) or 'Cho tôi xin số điện thoại của bạn được không?' (can I have your phone number please?).
If you get the address of a place in Vietnam where you want to visit, it is a good idea to learn how to read the address in Vietnamese correctly. This is definitely helpful when you want to give a driver the direction or ask Vietnamese native speakers how to get there.
A house number is called 'số nhà' in Vietnamese. However, when you read an address, you need to say 'nhà số' which means 'house numbered'. For example, house number 18 will be called 'nhà số mười tám'.
You may see some house numbers having a slash or slashes such as 23/5. The slash is read as 'trên' in the Northern Vietnamese and 'sẹc' in the Southern Vietnamese. So, there are two ways to read house number 23/5:
Vietnamese currency is 'Đồng' or 'Việt Nam Đồng'. In formal documents such as contracts, it is written as 'VNĐ' in Vietnamese. In informal documents such as a menu, the currency is written as 'đ'.
When talking about money, people count it with the counting numbers mentioned earlier, following by the word 'đồng'. For instance, 500 đồng (5 hundred VND), 1000 đồng (1 thousand VND), 1 triệu đồng (1 million VND).
In money, half of a hundred, a thousand, a million, a billion is called 'rưỡi' (Northern dialect) or 'rưởi' (Southern dialect). This is an informal way to say in informal situations. As an example, 10500 VND can be read as 'mười nghìn rưỡi' (informal) or 'mười nghìn năm trăm đồng' (formal).
To read a long number, you read from left to right. This is how to say 10,850,345,000 VND:
Mười tỷ, tám trăm năm mươi triệu, ba trăm bốn mươi lăm nghìn đồng.
In contracts, people also add the word 'chẵn' which means 'even' behind the word 'đồng'.
A birth year is called 'năm sinh' in this language. Although there are two calendars (Georgian calendar and Lunar calendar) used in Vietnam, the date of birth is defined by the Georgian calendar and written in the certificate of birth.
In a formal way, you can read a birth year by counting it, such as 'một nghìn chín trăm tám tư' for the year 1984.
In informal conversation, native Vietnamese people usually say the last two digits of the birth year 19xx. If you were born in 1984, you will say 'sinh năm tám tư'. 'Sinh năm' means 'were born in.
For people who were born from 2000 onwards, you will count the year as a regular number.
Learning how to count in Vietnamese is actually not difficult to do. You can easily practice what you have learned in this article when you go shopping or when you read an address.
It is better if you could practice counting in Vietnamese every day. Learn Vietnamese words and numbers with the Ling App so you can also listen to how the numbers are pronounced by native speakers. The app has a lot of Vietnamese lessons to help you master the language before traveling to Vietnam.