Korean Lesson 29: Counters

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여보세요!  이곳은 29과 한국어위 수업입니다!

Welcome to this new lesson!  Today’s focus is on the strange world of Korean numbers and counters.

In English, when we count things we simply say ‘1 dog, 2 cats’.  In Korean though, there are 3 ways of doing this.  The most popular way is by using a counter.  If you haven’t learned Japanese or Chinese before learning Korean then counters will be a mystery to you but if you have experience of learning other Asian languages then it won’t be too hard.

Counters are used sometimes in English in sentences like ‘a flock of geese’ or a ‘shoal of fish’ but we don’t have counters for cups or newspapers.  We say ‘3 newspapers’ but we do say ‘3 pieces of paper’.  In English we are inconsistent but in Korean, there are counters for all objects.

There are 3 main ways of using counters, here they are:

Method 1: (Object + number + Counter)

“1 dog, 1 Korean person, 1 book”

The most popular way of these type of sentences is as follows:

Ke han(1) mari / hangug-in han myøng / ch’aek han kwøn 개 한 마리 / 한국인 한 명 / 책 한 권

e.g. ke han mari-ga issøyo – I have one dog  개 한 마리가 있어요

hangug-in han myøng-i wayo – 1 Korean is coming  한국인 한 명이 와요

ch’aek han kwøn-i øpsøyo – I don’t have a book  책 한 권이 없어요

Method 2: (Object + Number + No counter)

Ke hana / hangug-in hana / ch’aek hana  개 하나 / 한국인 하나 / 책 하나

e.g. ke hana issøyo – I have one dog  개 하나 있어요

hangug-in hana wayo – 1 Korean is coming  한국인 하나 와요

ch’aek hana øpsøyo – I don’t have a book  책 하나 없어요

Method 3: (Number + possessive object ûi + Object)

Hana-ûi Ke / hana-ûi hangug-in / hana-ûi ch’aek  하나위 개 / 하나위 한국인 / 하나위 책

e.g. hana-ûi ke issøyo – I have one dog  하나위 개 있어요

hana-ûi hangug-in wayo – 1 Korean is coming  하나위 한국인 와요

hana-ûi ch’aek øpsøyo – I don’t have a book  하나위 책 없어요

All three are common but the most common of all are the first 2.

There will be a part two with the different counters but until then know that method 2 doesn’t need a specific counter so use that one.

I hope this helps!



One response to “Korean Lesson 29: Counters

  1. Sorry, me no good English.
    Right here is the right blog for everyone who hopes to understand this
    topic. You know a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I actually will need to…HaHa).
    You certainly put a new spin on a subject that’s been discussed for years. Wonderful stuff, just wonderful!


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