Counting in Chinese is relatively easy being a decimal counting system. This means Chinese has the numbers for 0 – 9, ten, hundred, etc. In Chinese you can write numbers as numerals as we do in English, that is 0,1,2,3,etc., or you in words, the equivalent of zero, one, two, three, etc. Whichever way you write the character the pronunciation is the same.
Number in Numerals  English  Chinese  Pinyin 
0  zero 

líng 
1  one 

yī 
2  two 

èr 
3  three 

sān 
4  four 

sì 
5  five 

wǔ 
6  six 

liù 
7  seven 

qī 
8  eight 

bā 
9  nine 

jiǔ 
10  ten 

shí 
100  hundred 

bǎi 
1,000  thousand 

qiān 
10,000  ten thousand 

wàn 
100,000,000  hundred million 

yì 
As you can see from the table above, Chinese numbers follow the same tens, hundreds, thousands logic as we use in English. Where things are different is that Chinese has a unit for ten thousand, pronounced “wàn” (
The table below shows how you use the Chinese ten thousand and one hundred million characters.
Number in Numerals  English  Chinese  Pinyin 
1  one 

yī 
10  ten 

shí 
100  one hundred 

yībǎi 
1,000  one thousand 

yīqiān 
10,000  ten thousand 

wàn 
100,000  one hundred thousand 

shí wàn 
1,000,000  one million 

yībǎi wàn 
10,000,000  ten million 

yīqiān wàn 
100,000,000  100 million 

yì 
1,000,000,000  one billion 

shí yì 
As you can hopefully see from the table above, the way counting in Chinese works starts of the same as in English all the way up to 9,999. For example 1,000 is literally “one (“yī”) thousand (“qiān”), that is “yīqiān” (
Ten thousand instead of writing it as “ten” and “thousand”, there is the special character that represents this number, so it is simply “one” and “ten thousand”, that is “wàn” (
One hundred thousand again uses “wàn” (
One million becomes “one hundred ten thousands”, that is “yībǎi wàn” (
Ten million becomes “one thousand ten thousands”. that is “yīqiān wàn” (
One hundred million is a number called a “yì” (
It is important to understand that, like English, it is normal to write any number as numerals and certainly not normal to write out a large number with Chinese characters. The below table is to illustrate the pronunciation of numbers in Chinese, but does mean that it is normal to write these numbers out in Chinese characters.
Number  Chinese  Pinyin 
7 

qī 
47 

sìshí qī 
107 

yībǎi líng qī 
547 

wǔbǎi sì shí qī 
2,547 

èrqiān wǔbǎi sì shí qī 
10,547 

yī wàn wǔbǎi sì shí qī 
30,547 

sān wàn wǔqiān sìbǎi qī shí 
32,547 

sānshí’èr diǎn wǔbǎi sì shí qī 
232,547 

èrshísān wàn èrqiān wǔbǎi sì shí qī 
1,000,000 

yī bǎi wàn 
6,000,000 

liùbǎi wàn 
6,000,000,047 

liùbǎi wàn hé sì shí qī 
6,232,547 

liùbǎi èr shí sān wàn èr qiān wǔbǎi sì shí qī 
90,000,000 

jiǔ qiān wàn 
100,000,000 

yī bǎi wàn 
1,000,000,000 

shí yì 
1,006,232,547 

shí yì 
Do Chinese speakers get confused when counting in English?
Given that English counting is based on thousands, that is a million be a thousand thousand and a billion being a thousand thousand thousand, it is not uncommon to hear a native Chinese speaker accidentally translate a number in to English incorrectly. Normally a native Chinese speaker would correct their English mistranslation immediately, however I have seen cases where confusion resulted in a number being translated incorrectly.
Equally, a native English speaker can easily get confused when saying large numbers in Chinese. If you are dealling with large numbers in Chinese and are not used to it you will find yourself pausing and thinking before you say the number – remembering that one million in Chinese is one hundred ten thousands.
How to pronounce decimal points in Chinese
The character for “point” in Chinese is
If you wanted to say “decimal point” in full, this is written as
You forgot the decimal point
s t r o n g > 你 忘 了 小 数 点 了 / s t r o n g >
nǐ wàngle xiǎoshùdiǎnle
Conclusion
Wrapping it up, if you are new to Chinese or are travelling to China, it is useful to know the numbers from zero to one hundred, or at a minimum one to five. If you are ever in the situation where you are buying something for one “yì”, that is 100 million, I’m sure the seller will find a translator to help bridge the divide.