Period of Time – Korean Numbers #4

In last week's episode, we've learned how to talk the time of the day. Today, we'll learn how to speak the period of time.

Period of Time


When you want to talk about hours, you should use pure Korean numbers. But you should use the word, 시간, not 시 for the period of time in hours.

한 시간 동안 멍하니 서 있어야 했다.
I had to stand up without doing anything for an hour.

세 시간 내로 끝낼 수 있을 줄 알았는데, 열 시간이나 걸렸다.
I firstly thought that I could finish it in 3 hours, but it took 10 hours!

From 24 hours, Sino-Korean numbers are more frequently used. K-Pop Lovers might have heard of the song title, 24시간이 모자라. You can use 스물 네 시간, but 이십 사 시간 is more frequently used.

48시간 동안 자 본 적이 있어요.
I've once slept for 48 hours.

Minutes and Seconds

For minutes and seconds, Sino-Korean numbers are used.

3분 내로 와라.
Come here in 3 minutes.

60초 내로 문을 열어야 합니다.
You should open the door in 60 seconds.


When you are talking about months, you can use 2 words, 달 or 개월. These 2 have the same meaning, but 달 uses pure Korean numbers and 개월 uses Sino-Korean numbers.

이 강의를 만들기 위해 3개월 동안 준비해 왔다.
To make this course, I've prepared for 3 months.

정말 한국어를 네 달 공부한 것 맞냐고 사람들이 물어 본다.
Many people ask me I really studied Korean for 4 months.

As for 3 months and 4 months, some people prefer to say 석 달 and 넉 달 rather than 세 달 or 네 달. 석, 넉 are the special reading of 셋 and 넷. So, you can speak like these:

이 강의를 만들기 위해 석 달 동안 준비해 왔다.
정말 한국어를 넉 달 공부한 것 맞냐고 사람들이 물어 본다.


Finally, years. You should use 년 and Sino-Korean numbers for the period of time.

3년 동안 사업하면서 얼마나 버셨어요?
How much did you earn for 3 years from your business?

많은 사람들이 영어 공부를 10년 했다고 하지만, 사실 실제로 공부한 시간은 한 달이 채 안 된다.
Many people say that they have studied English for 10 years, but the real time they spent for study is less than a month.

The special case of period of years is 1 year. In this case, you can use the phrase 한 해. It is used a lot like 한 해 동안, for a year or for this year.

한 해 동안 참 많은 일들이 있었다.
So many things happened this year.

Special words for number of days

In Korean, there are special pure Korean words for 1-10 days. They are 하루, 이틀, 사흘, 나흘, 닷새, 엿새, 이레, 여드레, 아흐레, 열흘. Their sounds are somewhat similar with their corresponding pure Korean numbers.

The most confusing one is 사흘. As there is 사 in front of it, you can guess that it means 4 days. It's 3 days.

사흘 후에 미국에 간다고?
Did you say that you will go to US after 3 days?

열흘 동안 밖에 안 나가고 집에만 있었다.
I didn't go out and stayed at home for 10 days.