Numbers as Graphical Components in Chinese

At first, I’ve decided to practice writing numbers. The characters representing Chinese numerals one through nine contain only few strokes. In fact, “one”, “two” and “three” are just one, two and three horizontal strokes. However, you can use these numbers to make just about any number you can think of. Furthermore, some of the characters are also radicals that are used as components of more complex Chinese characters.


number in Chinese

Multiple-digit numbers up to 99 are constructed using a multiplicative principle: first a digit from one to nine, then “ten” and finally the next digit (if necessary).

50 = 五十 (wǔ shí)

88 = 八十八 (bā shí bā)

If you add the月 character to a numeral from one to twelve, you will get the month name:

一月 (yī yuè) – January

二月 (èr yuè) – February

三月 (sān yuè) – March

四月 (sì yuè) – April

五月(wǔ yuè) – May

六月(liù yuè) – June

七月(qī yuè) – July

八月(bā yuè) – August

九月(jiǔ yuè) – September

十月(shí yuè) – October

十一月 (shíyī yuè) – November

十二月(shí’èr yuè) – December

Finally, 日 is a written term used to express the day of the month. E. g.,

六月三日 – liù yuè sān rì – June 3

So, by learning these 12 Chinese characters, you can already write more than one hundred Chinese words!

Oksana Ermolaeva

Oxana Ermolaeva is a freelance writer, editor and translator from Russia. She loves studying new languages and cultures. Her special interest is Chinese language. She owns a page on Facebook and a website about learning Chinese. Now she is also running a channel Hacking Chinese Characters at Dig Mandarin.