Malay numbers

Learning numbers is useful, for example, to understand the shopkeepers’ answers to your question ‘Berapa harga ini?’ (How much is it?). I’m sure you can find them in the Internet but I would like to share some differences between what you read in textbooks and what you hear in the streets.

Numbers in Malay are easy to learn. One to ten:

one — satu
two — dua
three — tiga
four — empat
five — lima
six — enam
seven — tujuh
eight — lapan
nine — sembilan
ten — sepuluh

If the web-site where you found them says that eight is ‘delapan’, then the site was written by Indonesians. In Malaysia they say ‘lapan’.

11 — sebelas. For 12 — 19 add ‘belas’: 12 — dua belas, 13 — tiga belas, etc. For 20 — 90 add ‘puluh’: 20 – dua puluh, 30 — tiga puluh, etc. One hundred will be seratus. For 200 – 900 add ‘ratus’: 200 — dua ratus, 300 – tiga ratus, etc. One thousand is seribu. For 2000 — 9000 add ‘ribu’: 2000 — dua ribu, 3000 — tiga ribu, etc. One million is sejuta.

So, 21 will be dua puluh satu. This is what you read in textbooks but normally, people rarely use such a form. Instead they say ‘dua satu’. It is like saying ‘two one’ instead of ‘twenty one’. If something costs RM35, you will hear ‘tiga lima’ (not tiga puluh lima). Also, if something costs, say, 2.70, they don’t say ‘dua, tujuh puluh’. They say ‘dua, tujuh’. It’s easier if you think of it as 2.7.

However, they don’t use these shortcuts for hundreds and thousands: 135 will be seratus tiga puluh lima, not satu tiga lima.

Happy shopping!

Published in: on 14/06/2011 at 13:29  Leave a Comment  

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