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Saying Your Age

Posted by on February 15, 2012

I know I’ve already been over this a few times, but I just want to reiterate that this site will eventually be focused on intermediate to advanced Korean language learning. For the time being, however, I don’t have enough of a visitor base to narrow the content to a certain niche. If there are any advanced visitors, please bear with me for the next few months until this site gets far enough along that I can get by with only advanced content. Until that day, I will continue to offer an assortment of materials.

There are two number systems in Korean: Sino-Korean (of Chinese derivation) and pure Korean. At certain times one or the other is used depending on what is being counted, and sometimes both systems are used in conjunction, as in telling time.

Today we are going to take a look at the proper way to state your age in Korean. Besides a few rare exceptions, pure Korean is almost always used when discussing age. In newspapers, from time to time, you may see the word “세” preceded by a number, e.g., “25세.” In such cases, the age is read in Sino-Korean and pronounced “이십오 세 (iship-oh sae).” In real life, however, people rarely state their, or anyone else’s, age in this form and instead use pure Korean. The same age, 25 years old, would be pronounced “스물다섯 살 (seumool dasot sal),” using the pure Korean numbering system.

In pure Korean, each unit of ten has a unique name, similar to English. In Sino-Korean all one has to do to make twenty is say “2-10 (이십),” but this is not the case with pure Korean.

Let’s start out by reviewing the names of the pure Korean numbers in units of ten.
I’ll post a video about this soon. Watch the video or listen to the podcast for pronunciation help!

10: 열 (yawl)
20: 스물 (seumul) (drops the final “l” when followed by “살”)
30: 서른 (sawreun)
40: 마흔 (maheun)
50: 쉰 (shwin)
60: 예순 (yaesoon)
70: 일흔 (ilheun)
80: 여든 (yawdeun)
90: 아흔 (ahheun)

Now let’s take a look at pronunciation of the single numerals.

1: 하나 (hana)
2: 둘 (dool)
3: 셋 (set)
4: 넷 (net)
5: 다섯 (dasawt)
6: 여섯 (yawsawt)
7: 일곱(ilgop)
8: 여덟(yawdol)
9: 아홉(ahhop)

To state your age, simply choose the decade from the first column, attach the number of single years from the second group and attach the word “살 sal (age)” to the end.

OK, now it’s time to practice a few ages.

저는 마이클이고 스물다섯 살입니다.
(Jawneun Michael ego seumool dasawt sal imneeda.)
My name is Michael and I’m twenty-five years old.

저는 서른두 살인 김정민입니다.
I’m Kim Jeong-min and I’m thirty-two years old.

저는 열아홉 살입니다.
I’m nineteen years old.

저는 스물세 살입니다.
I’m twenty-three years old.

Here’s an example of stating age in the Sino-Korean way. Like I said, it’s sometimes written this way, but almost never spoken this way.

26세, 김모 씨가 어제 새벽 2시경 종로경찰서에 입건, 현재 구금된 상태입니다.
Mr. Kim (26) was booked at the Jongno Police Station at approximately 2 a.m. last night and is currently under detention there.

31 Responses to Saying Your Age

  1. Willie Remigio

    I need 23 and 24 in Korean, not sure if its 20 than 3 or 3 than 20

  2. Kylie

    Would you be able to tell me how to pronounce 열여섯? I’m not sure if I’m saying it correctly because it’s so difficult to pronounce since it has one “여” sound after another.

    • webm

      Unless I’m mistaken;
      열여섯
      yeol-yeoseos (last S is sort of a faint T)
      yeol is pronounced like yawl and the same vowel is used for all the eo in yeol-yeoseot

      • Jammy

        yup I got confused too haha with the yawl and yeol but I see other sites say Yeol instead of yawl :)) also “imnida” “daseot” “yoseot”

    • dijanam27@hotmail.com

      it would be pronounced ‘yeol-yeo-seot’ however it might seem easier to say if you romanize it a different way as ‘yol-yo-sot’

  3. ericalegaspi

    hi im erica can you teach more korean word thank you

  4. anna

    Hello – can you please write the characters for the age 80 if I wanted to say my Dad is turning 80. How do I write that 80 referring to his age? Thank you.

  5. yasmeen

    errr is there a section where we start with the alphabets and the like ?
    i cant read the text posted at level one ; might as well be an ant walking away from an ink bottle really

    starting from zero here i.e. A,B,C level

    with thanks

  6. chenai

    can you teach a fourteen year old girl to speak korean

  7. Betty Samsom

    thanks for the numbers i was on;y know 1.2.3 thabkss

  8. Betty Samsom

    that cool i like it but can u make some for 13 yrs girl like me

    • Kylie

      If you’re asking how to say your age in Korean, I believe it would be 10 and 3. 10 is 열 (yawl) and 3 is 셋 (set). So it would be 열셋 (yawlset). So to so that you are 13 years old, you would say 저는 열셋 살입니다 (Jawneun yawlset salimneeda). I hope this helps:)

  9. mariah

    aw so im 저는 14살 입니다 ~~~~!!!

  10. jagruti

    i want to know more of korean language and to speak fluent korean. please help.

  11. angel

    i want to learn basic korean language till i master it…and how 2 write in a simple way…help 🙂

  12. laura

    to learn Korean language.

  13. Claus

    “저는 마이클이고 스물다섯 살입니다.”

    “저는 스물세 살입니다.”

    I noticed that the final ㅅ in the word 셋 was dropped in the second sentence, while in the first sentence, ㅅ wasn’t dropped in the word 섯. Why so? Or was it a typo?

    • 다니엘

      The ㅅ in 셋 is dropped because it is used with a counter(살/age). In th Korean language there are 5 native Korean numbers that change with counters 하나–> 한, 둘–>두, 셋–>세, 넷–>네 and 스물–>스무.

  14. roeurt G-Woo

    i like ur wes…..very good webs^^

  15. yoona

    i can read some of korean words just learned it by myself but not all meaning im not tha really good cos eventhough i can read i dont know the meaning in english hahahah,,.. pls help me!!..

  16. Deanna Gracia

    🙂 😀 😉 I’m not too smart to read the sentences… Haha… :D:D

  17. Deanna Gracia

    I know how to speak Korean language, but I didn’t understand many in English because I’m Indonesian 🙂 How to speak “I’m nine years old in Korean?” please answer.

    • Michael

      You can say it like this, “저는 아홉 살이에요.”
      The pronunciation is “jaw nun ah hope sal eeaeyo.”

      Good luck!

  18. bigbang

    don’t know how to read><

  19. Choi Seongwon

    우리 아기 8개월 됐어요.
    (oori agi 8(pal)gaewall doessawyo)
    my baby is 8 months old….

    i want to say that the conception of age in korea is a little bit different with in other countries.
    it’s like a point system.
    for example, if your mother give you birth, you would get 1 point which we call as ‘sal’.
    and everyone gets 1 point more at new year regardless of when their birth day is.

  20. jong yeon mi

    can you please teach me more korean language <3

  21. Kathy

    How do you say the age in months? e.g., my baby is 8 months old…

  22. kailash

    i am in incheon n my weakness is on language so frns help me to learn korean language

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