4 Ways to Use Counting Nouns – Numbers #1

From today, we will learn about the counting words like 명, 대, 권, etc. After deciding to tell you about the topic, it found out that it is a bigger topic than I originally thought. One important thing I realized is that only covering the counting words is meaningless. Because the usage is really various and you have to know how to read numbers properly.

So, before we learn those words, we should learn first how they are used. They are used in 4 styles.

Noun + Number + Counting word

The most important and widely used form is noun + number + counting word. Examples are like 학생 열 명, 차 한 대, 김치 한 점, etc. If you can remember only one thing, you should remember this form.

학생 세 명이 가게 앞에 서 있다.
3 students are standing in front of a store.

저는 이번 달에 소설책 열 권을 읽었습니다.
I've read 10 novels this month.

장미꽃 다섯 송이 주세요.
5 roses, please.

Sometimes, markers are added between those words like 소설책을 열 권을 읽었습니다 or 장미꽃을 다섯 송이 주세요. To decide which marker to use, just delete number and counting word, then add proper marker for the sentence. If we get rid of 세 명 in 학생 세 명, only 이 is left and 학생이 is natural. So, it's impossible to add marker between them. However, if we remove 다섯 송이, it becomes 장미꽃 주세요. It's natural, but you can also add 을 next to 장미꽃, so it's 장미꽃을 다섯 송이 주세요.

Number + Counting word + 의 + Noun

If you read books or news articles a lot, you can find number + counting word + 의 + noun a lot. Examples are 열 명의 학생, 한 대의 차, 한 점의 김치, etc. This form is rarely used in conversation.

세 명의 학생이 가게 앞에 서 있었다.
3 students are standing in front of a store.

저는 이번 달에 열 권의 소설책을 읽었습니다.
I've read 10 novels this month.

다섯 송이의 장미꽃을 사 왔다.
He came back after buying 5 roses.

Number + Noun

Number + Noun form is really common in English like 3 boys, 5 apples, 17 cars, 29 books, etc. However, it's really hard to find these examples in Korean. This usage is only used with some specific words like 남자, 여자, 사람, 집, 가정, 나라, 문제, 아들, 딸, etc. Don't use this form with other words like 한 사과, 다섯 책, 열두 차, etc., it is really weird.

이 드라마는 한 남자와 이웃에 살던 두 여자의 이야기이다.
This drama is about one man and two women who lived next door.

그 세 나라는 잘 사는 나라가 아니었다.
Those 3 countries weren't developed.

컴퓨터가 없는 집이 있는지 조사해봤는데 다섯 집이나 되더라고.
I checked whether there is a family who don't have a computer. There were 5!

You shouldn't use this form if the number is over 20.

Noun + Number

The last form is Noun + Number. This form is rarely used, but if you use it well, many people will think that you are fluent in Korean.

This form is used when you buy or order something. It is also used when the number is important. It usually shows small number.

기술자 하나 보냈다. 1시간 정도 기다리면 올 거야.
I've sent you a mechanic. He will be there in an hour.

아메리카노 하나랑 카푸치노 둘 주세요.
One Americano and two Cappuccinos, please.

애 하나가 얼마 전까지 여기 있었는데.
A kid was here not long ago.

When you are ordering, don't use this form if you are ordering more than 3. It is usually used for 1 or 2 items. When it becomes more than 3, it starts to sound weird.

When you are counting people with this form, don't use this when it is more than 10 people. Actually, I recommend you not use this when more than 3 like ordering. After 3, it becomes awkward.

As many of you know, there are pure Korean numbers(하나, 둘, 셋) and sino-Korean numbers(일, 이, 삼), I'll tell you about the numbers and when to use them.